©1995 Kay Redfield Jamison; (P)2010 Random House
"From Kay Redfield Jamison - an international authority on manic-depressive illness, and one of the few women who are full professors of medicine at American Universities - a remarkable personal testimony: the revelation of her own struggle since adolescence with manic depression, and how it shaped her life. With vivid prose and wit, she takes us into the fascinating and dangerous territory of this form of madness - a world in which one pole can be the alluring dark land ruled by what Byron called the 'melancholy star of the imagination,' and the other a desert of depression and, all too frequently, death." (Amazon.com review)
I have a niece who has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I was especially interested in Dr. Jamison's perspective as both a patient and a doctor. It gave me some great insight into what my niece might have been struggling with for many years. I also was relieved to find that there is hope for some peace once time, understanding and the right medications have prevailed.
This is an important book for people wanting to understand relatives and friends who have been diagnosed as bipolar.
The writer SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO NARRATE THEIR OWN BOOKS!! Good gawd, she was awful. Such a downer that made it hard to grasp what she was saying. Not dramatic downer, no, a "I am just reading this book without any interest or voice inflections in the least". It was painful. Too bad because the content of her book was good. I suggest reading this book with your eyes to avoid her ruining it.
I respect Kay Redfield Jamison for her courage in sharing her personal story. From that perspective, the book demonstrates another step in the healing process and the reader is included in that. Nevertheless, a memoir is not a textbook or a medical journal. A memoir is a story and demands to be written as such. Her description of people is flat. Her use of cliches is constant. There's very little imagery I haven't heard hundreds of times. It's strictly a narrative and only contains two lines of dialogue. Because it's so one-dimensional, I think it's difficult to feel her pain, or stay with it. She reports how she felt insane, but we don't feel it. The best part of the book is the opening pages. In those we really feel her frenetic energy in the parking lot. But it stops there. We never get back to that depth of character. We get a little bit more in her relationship with David, but she skirts the edge of it and relates it as if were a news piece.
It's clear that Jamison knows how to write factual material. Work is needed on character development and imagery. Even a memoir written in a narrative style, standard story telling techniques are demanded. Jamison is too intelligent to make that kind of a mistake.
As a narrator, Jamison is flat. There's very little inflection or change of mood and tone. It's a droning pace that quickly becomes white noise. I understand why she wants to read her own story, but a good narrator may have been able to bring energy to it that Jamison was unable to manage.
If you simply are looking to fill a few hours learning about bipolar disorder and don't want to get involved with story, the book is fine. But if you want to enter that world and truly visit for a while, find another novel.
Yes. I listened to this in order to have better insight toward manic depression and recovery from a mental illness. The author's experience with manic depression interested me, but her background and life story in general seemed dry and emotionless. I feel some individuals with manic depression would have a tough time relating to her story, because she was born into a life that allowed her to utilize the best resources available for her disorder.
I do respect the author's experience with manic depression, and am glad she wrote this book despite fears about the stigma toward mental illness, and it's potential to negatively impact her personal and professional life. She comes across as very intelligent and educated about the disorder, and shares some great thoughts. The revelation at the end of her memoir had the greatest impact on me because it gave me a different perspective on living with manic depression.
The narrator's voice is so droll that I couldn't get past the first hour. I usually find audio books about mental illness to be quite interesting, but this lady's voice grated on my nerves so much that I couldn't stand to listen to the whole thing. Granted, the subject matter in itself is a bit somber. Maybe I would enjoy it much more if I actually read the book instead.
Say something about yourself!
If this were a fiction book, I would critique it on the basis that the main character is painfully one-dimensional, and as another reviewer wrote, somewhat self-centered. The fact that this is actually a memoir is not a good sign since memoirs are an opportunity for authors to explore their own uniqueness and get beyond narrative cliches. Its a pity that she has applied such a normative frame to understanding the complications of her life, and unless you are totally comfortable with the narrow ambitions and desires of a "normal" bourgeois life, you probably won't find this book compelling.
Kay the narrator, because she was clearly going outside her private comfort zone to tell her story.
When her lover was being buried with the English military honors.
I don't think anything could have made it that high for me. Perhaps the only adjustment possible would have been a different narrator to my liking.. Fat chance for that!
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