too bright to hear too loud to see – juliann garey

This is my favourite novel about bipolar so far, again not so much for the plot as the perceptions. It’s written in the voice of a Hollywood agent, who cracks up, abandons everything and heads off round the world sans meds. A good device for (literally) losing the plot.

Not everyone can feel things as deeply as you. Most people, their feelings are … bland, tasteless. They’ll never understand what it’s like to read a poem and feel almost like they’re flying, or to see a bleeding fish and feel grief that shatters their heart. It’s not a weakness, Grey. It’s what I love about you most.

The author is bipolar and though she shifted gender and details for the book, it reads like an authentic first person account. It is, as many other reviews have noted, compelling.

We are all of us – well, with the exception of people who have just fallen in love and those lucky demented few who see life’s glass as three quarters full – we are just getting by.

It, like Marya Hornbacher’s books, gets deep into the bones of things and finds poetry there, without ever romanticising the disorder. Lots of ‘oh wow eureka yeah’ moments.

You think you should have an answer to the question, ‘What’s wrong?’ You wish you knew. No one can understand how much you wish you knew. You know you must be horrible to live with, to be around. Because you cannot stand to be you – to be in your own skin.

This is the novel I’d recommend for people who love a manic depressive to read. And I’d say, don’t think hard, relax into its rhythms and you might come out with some idea of what it feels like. It shows you how easily things are lost too.

Because every day when I wake up, the clouds gather, a little darker each day, and I feel less and less equipped to do anything about them. To go anywhere. To make a change. To speak more than the occasional sentence. So I go to the bookstores. I do not want to speak and I do not want to be spoken to. I find it hurts my ears. My head. My skin. And people are quiet in bookstores. I like the anonymous, mute companionship of my fellow browsers.

One review of it started off by calling bipolar ‘the hot mental illness of the hour …’  how supremely thoughtless.

Please tell me what you think of it if you’ve read it.

Juliann Garey hasn’t blogged since 2012 (meh), but there’s some good reading there too.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

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