death and what comes next

(A Discworld short story by Terry Pratchett)
Copyright © Terry Pratchett 2002

Continue reading death and what comes next

the flying troutmans – miriam toews

This is the fifth book by Miriam Toews that I’ve read, and the fourth I’ve reviewed on this blog. Because of the theme and motivation of my blog, I only review mental/neurobiological illness related stuff.

Continue reading the flying troutmans – miriam toews

kiss me first – lottie moggach

“Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.” Douglas Adams

Kiss Me First is about suicide and about online identity, so the book had me at once upon a time, only it didn’t start that way, of course. The reader topples straight into the action, but here’s the basic premise, from the book itself.

Continue reading kiss me first – lottie moggach

Glitterland & Glitterland Aftermath – Alexis Hall

Ash is bipolar (type 1 … it almost always is, isn’t it, in books?*), a gay man whose dreams turned to issues. He’s also posh. Darian (the luuurve interest) is sprayed orange, from, yes you guessed it, Essex. He’s a model (you know what I mean and he does his li…er, oops) and all of his dialogue is rendered with all due rhotacism** and so on. Awight? It would have been fun if the author had got phonetic with the posh accent too. Bipolar and British class issues put chips on our heroes’ shoulders and provide the dramatic conflict, such as it is.


Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t forget to take your medication, don’t break your routine. Nobody had ever explicitly said, “Don’t have casual sex with strange men in unfamiliar cities,” but it was probably covered in the “Don’t have any fun ever” clause.

The book is a well written, socially responsible and politically correct (without being overt or irritating), fluffy, fast and feelgood bit of heavy breathing and romance. (Avoid it if you’re a ‘phobe, there’s a lot of sex.) This blog being about as bipolar as they get (and queer with it), I shall now proceed to offer you some delightful and maybe even moving spoiler-free quotes. They’re in sequence, but all occurred relatively far apart.

Once upon a time, I too dreamed different dreams. My horizon was bolder and grander and more beautiful than the threshold of my own fucking flat. And now I lived in a world so narrow and so colourless that getting out of bed in the morning was a victory. That not actively wanting to die was happiness.

“I’m a terrible risk to take with your happiness.”

Heeeeeerere’s Darian! The other quotes are all Ash.

“Also, right, if you fink abaht it, it’s stupid to ’ave medication what’s supposed to be for stopping people being depressed what also makes ’em fat. Cos that’d be well depressing.”

I scraped out a mirthless laugh. “I don’t know where he is and this isn’t a fucking romcom. I’m not going to catch up with him just as he’s getting onto a plane, kiss him in front of a crowd of applauding strangers, and live happily ever after. Besides, what am I going to say to him? I’m just a manic depressive standing in front of a moron, asking him to love me?”

Um. There’s a cottage pie recipe in the appendices. It’ll make (some) sense when you read it.

*you get more sensationalist bang for your proverbial buck out of type 1 than 2, simply because extreme mania and psychosis happen in bipolar 1 on the whole. Depression isn’t fashionable in the media this year. *rolls eyes at society*
**rhotacism is my new word for today.


Storm Chasers – Jenna Blum

“Their breath is agitation, and their life/ A storm whereon they ride.”

Is it a book review? Is it a therapy session?*

Charles is a bipolar (type 1, rapid cycling, psychotic features) stormchaser, who disappeared for two decades. His twin, Karena gets a phone call from a psych ward, but by the time she gets there, he’s vanished again. She joins professional stormchasers on a bus tour to look for him. Plot and flashbacks happen.

I was compelled to write about bipolarity in a storm context, to explore through Charles and Karena these “storms in the mind’s eye.” These mood storms and their consequences comprise the heart of the novel.
Jenna Blum


Watching bipolarity happen in a storm context made me wince at times. I’ve read more first person than onlooker descriptions … it’s all rather sobering. Maybe some relief there too, that it isn’t about me.

Of course, the present is where the narrator must stand, looking back and forth and trying not to get whiplash. In books, shadows must always be faced. A tragedy, a secret, a suicide attempt, a love story.

“This is not safe,” Karena says. “They are all fucking crazy. This is not safe at all!”

You’ll learn plenty about storms; the author is a stormchaser herself. She communicates the thrill and the fear well. What the reader learns about bipolar is often a bit stilted, she’s not bipolar and she doesn’t always quite get under its skin the way a novelist like Miriam Toews does.

Ironically, it is when Charles is coming out of a depressive period that he must be watched most closely, for then he is capable of more than suicidal ideation. Then he has energy enough to carry out the act.

Infobytes like that are too textbook, not enough novel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an enjoyable read. I’m nitpicking. Mania transforms Charles into the djinn, the Stranger, who exists on a spectrum anywhere from obnoxious to dangerous. Something distresses me about that. He calls depression the Black.

“But you always come out of it,” she reminds him. “Right?”

“So far,” Charles agrees. “But every time I’m so worried I won’t. That I’ll stay there forever. Death is totally not scary in comparison.

Ikr? As ever, manic depression’s collateral damage is enormous.

Yes, Charles is a genius, and he loves his manias. But Charles’s disorder is the gift nobody wants to get given. There is no cure for it, no solution. Either Charles takes his medication and suffers, or he doesn’t and everyone else does. It is colossally, sickeningly, definitively unfair.

It’s very interesting to read stuff by people who love people with bipolar. Sometimes it’s also very hard. The mania especially, is ugly and frequently nasty. I’d be interested in your opinions of that if you read the book.

Tiff and Kevin are right. Her brother will destroy her.

I wish the above wasn’t a possibility when talking about bipolar, but without the right boundaries and support in place, it very much is. Even if there isn’t total destruction, there’s still some horrible attrition. The subplot of romance that winds through the book lightens things and is welcome for it. In all, it held my attention right the way through. Not a remarkable book, but good reading nonetheless. And I liked the offbeat and feelgood aspects.

perfect storm
a particularly violent storm arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors.
an especially bad situation caused by a combination of unfavourable circumstances.

*or just a lazy quotefest?