©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)
Richly written description of the very difficult life lead by a suffering manic-depressive. I highly recommend this book. Its not just a study on the illness, you get this great insight from a brilliant woman and its a riveting story of her life.
I downloaded this title today, so I'd have a copy when I return the borrowed paper book version I have. It quickly became apparent that there are parts missing, so I began reading along and this is certainly *not* the Unabridged version.
On a single page several paragraphs were chopped in half. The book, which has four parts, has been whittled down to three. Someone, somewhere, has a very loose definition of unabridged.
Still, I'm enjoying what I hear. I just wonder what I'm going to miss from the continuation of the audiobook.
The first book I read by Jamison was "Manic Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression" that she wrote with Frederick Goodwin. 1262 pages. Although huge and technical, it is surprisingly readable. (I skipped all the parts comparing the drawbacks of different studies) It's the bible of bipolar disorder.
So this book was quite a change, a short and very personal book. I'm glad I heard it aloud and I'm glad she read it herself. I disagree with the people who found her voice dull and unemotional. That's what therapists sound like. If you listen carefully, you can hear the tiniest cracks in her voice when she talks about the losses in her life. Not unemotional. Dignified and subtle and heartbreaking.
One thing she says in the book that might interest Audible listeners is that she lost her ability to read when she was on a high dose of lithium. She'd read a paragraph, have no idea what it said, then have to read it again. And again. She had to have her boyfriend read aloud to her. Lowering her dose apparently helped improve her reading, enough to read and distill shelves full of difficult technical articles into "only" 1262 pages. A heroic accomplishment.
Most bipolars I've talked to say they have problems reading books - they can handle articles. They're not all on lithium, and those that are are not on high doses. I think it's a consequence of the disorder. Thank goodness we have Audible for popular books. I'd love it if Audible would offer her magnum opus, but it's an absurdly huge technical book with a limited audience. Maybe Amazon will loosen up on its "read out loud" feature so it's available not just on physical Kindles but on phones, pcs and macs.
I give her a lot of credit for writing about herself. This book has potential to help a lot of people. Her voice is mundane, howerver.
Tough subject but an interesting story. Not for everyone though. Likely best for those whose interest run in this area.
Say something about yourself!
This book is five stars, but the audiobook is roughly half of the paper book. Well done, read by Jamison herself, but leaves out a lot of what makes the book great. You still get the core of the story, and it makes sense, but you loose all the little details and other pieces that make this a wonderful story.
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.
The author did a great job describing why so many with bipolar disorder struggle taking the prescribed medications.
The author's stories of how she revealed her disorder to the men in her life, her employer, and the world.
This story was about Kay Redfield Jamison. There were not any other characters in the book.
Although the event had little to do with bipolar disorder, the moment in the book that moved me was when her partner, David, died unexpectedly.
This is a particularly good book to read if you or any of your loved ones are taking lithium for treatment of bipolar disorder. The author does a good job of talking about the pros and cons of treatment, and the benefit of treatment in spite of losing her hypomanic moments. She also does a good job discussing the pros and cons of parenting with bipolar disorder.
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. ~Paul Sweeney
I would not say that I was disappointed by the book, but only that I was left unsatisfied.
The words were filled with joy, sadness and excitement at times, but the narration was not. I would have liked to hear more feeling.
She read the words. (okay that was four, but you get the point)
Yes! It was very informative. It was delivered in a very smart, but clinical way. It was opening to something that some of us have only seen protrayed in television shows. I think that there was a lot of good, if you had an interest. I just did not enjoy the delivery.
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