List

The Midnight Disease

By Mike Smoody

In his novel Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon diagnoses writers with the "midnight disease," a form of insomnia driven by late-night inspiration, resulting in daytime madness. These movies and the books that influenced them demonstrate witness its effects.

  • Wonder Boys

    2000

    This movie identified the midnight disease. For the two main characters, a has-been author and his brilliant protege, the results lead to comic catastrophe.

    Get this item
  • Wonder Boys: A Novel

    2008 by Chabon, Michael

    An aspiring writer and his jaded mentor are up to a host of shenanigans. This is where the "midnight disease" is first brought to light and where it finds its most thorough explication.

    Get this item
  • Adaptation

    2003

    Anyone who has ever struggled with writing will appreciate Charlie Kaufman's tortured self-portrait of his attempt to adapt a book into a movie, a movie that is also part of this movie. Definitely an idea hatched in the middle of the night.

    Get this item
  • The Orchid Thief

    2014 by Orlean, Susan

    This book so challenged Charlie Kaufman's creative powers that he had to write a screenplay about both the book and the experience of adapting it.

    Get this item
  • Sideways

    2005

    Miles's struggles to become a published novelist may be the least of his problems, but they sure don't help. A nightcap could be a source of inspiration, but one too many and, well, you end up sideways.

    Get this item
  • Sideways

    2004 by Pickett, Rex

    Sideways, like all the movie/book pairs on this list, is an exception to the rule. That is to say, both the book and the movie are excellent.

    Get this item
  • The Happy Prince

    2019

    Wilde may have spent most of his nights partying rather than writing, but, at least according to this movie, he manages to spin one of his most charming tales during the wee hours.

    Get this item
  • Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

    1990 by Wilde, Oscar

    After more than 100 years, Wilde's reputation as wit and playwright still stands. Read his fairy tales to experience the prose of a softer Wilde, though no less imaginative and no less exquisitely expressed.

    Get this item
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    2003

    In this movie you witness the late stages of the midnight disease, where writing is forgotten and total madness ensues. There is a fair element of debauchery in the movies on this list, but it definitely reaches a crescendo here with the escapades of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo.

    Get this item
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Other American Stories

    1998 by Thompson, Hunter S.

    The movie is about as true to the book as a movie could be. But whether or not the book is true, you'll need to determine.

    Get this item
  • Barton Fink

    2003

    Fink's insomnia results in part from his trying to write a play while staying in the second-worst hotel in America. The worst being, of course, The Overlook, another writer's hell. His next-door neighbor also happens to be a psychopathic insurance salesman. No wonder Fink can't sleep.

    Get this item
  • The Sound and the Fury: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism

    1994 by Faulkner, William

    Although Barton Fink is most definitely not based on Faulkner's novel, Faulkner is a character in the movie. He, like Fink, wrote scripts for Hollywood, but it's his great novel that has an air of midnight madness about it.

    Get this item