In her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years.
The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo 12 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.
©2012 Juliann Garey (P)2012 AudioGO
This book is told from the perspective of Greyson, a successful studio executive who struggles to deal with his bi-polar illness, and when he feels he can't, leaves his wife and child in the middle of the night and travels the world, making decisions based on his emotional swings.
It was a very difficult book to read. It is (what I imagine) a fairly realistic depiction of one person with mental health issues. Overall I am glad I read it, and it was very compelling.
One caveat, the book has 3 main timelines, and one of them I found almost unbearable. The language, sexual promiscuity, debauchery and descriptions were truly disturbing. It was true "madness". I had to stop reading because I felt physically sick. "Listening" to the audiobook may have made it worse because I couldn't just skin over those pages. If this particular plotline had gone on any longer, I would have stopped, but thankfully the book moved on to another timeline and I began to appreciate it again.
I'm not sure I can say I "enjoyed" the book, but I was drawn in by the secondary characters and the subject matter. The ending was realistic, and provided some meaningful dialogue (between Greyson and his psychiatrist) of what individuals with serious mental illness can expect as far as management of the disease. And without oversimplifying the reality, it finished with a glimpse of hope - which I don't think I've ever been so happy to read.
The publisher's summary does a faithful description of this book, but does not begin to accentuate the stunning, shocking detail of the writing. Although the subject matter is not for the faint of heart (and at times can be downright repulsive!), the description of mental illness in Garey's moving, relentless prose is nothing short of art.
I've been bored by much of the recent, highly-rated fiction on offer. The "Hollywood Ending," the "weird-for-weird's-sake," the "sex-as-shock-value." Too Bright; Too Loud eschews all of that and instead takes the reader on a believable (if relentless) journey into the mind of a sufferer of bi-polar disorder. Greyson's personal journey is foreshadowed by the journey of his own father, and that mirroring (IMO) is the brilliance of this book. No further spoilers!
If you are squeamish about sex/ drug/ alcohol abuse, and/or you don't do well with explicit language, go elsewhere: this book will blast you. If you seek compelling narrative, believable characters and real-life drama (and can handle the truth!) this book might be for you. It opens a window to the understanding of bi-polar disorder and the genesis and progression of the disease. Its protagonist represents a pathologically flawed and yet "loveable" character, and in the end (no spoilers) offers a glimmer of hope for suffers and those who love (and are created by) them.
The narrator was perfect, in my opinion.
Downsides: the prose is relentless and gritty, sometimes revolting. Really gross. The narration spans about 40 years of history, given in piecemeal vignettes. I often find this kind of structure frustrating in audio format because it's difficult to refer to previous episodes in an effort to accurately track the progression of the overall narrative.
Final comment: I enjoyed this novel a great deal and recommend it to readers who are looking for something vibrant, meaningful and real.
Juliann Garey writes about bi-polar and manic depression as if he/she has experianced it personally. Dealing with both mental challenges myself, I had to take a break several times so I did not get sucked into Garisons manic episodes. This book was a good walk through what it feels like to experiance these problems. Understand there are diffrent levels of mental illness, but many times I have felt the things that were potrayed in this book. I loved this book. I especially loved the ending. None of us will sustain joy 24/7. But it is possible to experiance and live with joy whatever the problems we might have.
If I was more emotionaly stable I would have listened all at once. A couple of times I had to step away because the book is so intense.
I cryed, laughed, was irritated by this book. Most of all I was encouraged and uplifted.
Greyson's character was so direct, edgy, flippant, vulnerable, intellectual, intimate, enraged, generous and, yes, well, manic. I just kept thinking, he's smart and amazingly successful and resourceful - so can he overcome himself?
The Kampala adventure. Whoa, that was brave. I've been to those places, but not like that and not so close to the core.
Dan Butler brought the perfect attitude, accent and timing to the story. I will look for more of his narrations.
Greyson. Who could possibly be more interesting?
It is hard to believe that this is Juliann Garey's first novel. Well done. Write more.
Gripped my attention early and held it to the end. Ok end was weak but rest was extraordinary. Yes it has filthy parts, yes it is for adults who like something beside shlock. Yes it is shocking at times. If you go to church regularly and blush at adult themes stay away. And curl up with a nice predictable book full of bad things happening to wonderful people,
Story unbearably boring. Unbelievable tale. Put me to sleep. Would not recommend to friends or relatives.
Never found one. Quit listening 1/3 of the way through.
Wasted my money.
This book starts out with a promising sense of humour, poking fun at Hollywood elite parties. I'm enjoying this. But the fun suddenly and abruptly ends, devolving into crudity, irritating stupidity, and a frustrating listen.
Hour after hour, for three quarters of the book, the writer grinds on and on about Greyson's incessant and insatiable need to hump every woman in sight, and about each random woman's body parts. Like some erotic collage of breasts and pubics he's slapping together in a frenzied haphazard derangement.
In Thailand, its all about sex for sale. Its much the same for the other places he visits. In Africa, he meets a Kenyan woman in a slum, whose husband has died of AIDS. He immediately beds her too, without any protection, then marries her in a totally off-handed way before he leaves, ensuring he sends her enough money to live on. Paid her off. That's the other theme of this book. He's a rich Hollywood hero who throws money at everyone, precluding the need for any caring. I spend the rest of the book wondering whether he's contracted AIDS or some other form of STD. I'm still wondering. Syphilis is said to attack the brain and cause similar symptoms.
I was expecting a classier book. Something deeper and more meaningful. Greater insight into bipolar disorder. This author must've heard that sex sells. I wont touch any other books by her. What a load of rubbish!
I've given 2 stars for the beginning and the ending, as well as the attempt at portraying at least something about bipolar disorder.
The random moments of lucidity.
There really was only one character - the narrator.
He brings the insane rambling to life.
I was frustrated by the insane ramblings that made no sense. I couldn't tell what was really happening or what was a hallucination. I should have expected this considering the fact that the book summary clearly stated that the book would deal with mental illness. I just thought that they could do so in a clearer fashion, so as to not leave the reader repeating, "Huh?" over and over.
The story was shockingly consistent in it's portrayal of bipolar disorder, at it's worst. Which is in of itself interesting, since there are relatively few works which delve into the subject. I definitely would recommend this book to those curious as to what it might be like to live with bipolar disorder, although it is vulgar and quite graphic throughout. Thankfully it is easy to be empathetic toward the main character as his teetering life unravels, set in the 1980's.
Yes, both laughed and cried (internally) as it shed light on the monstrosity of bipolar disorder.
My hope is that this book helps to remove some of the stigma (ignorance) out there around mental illness.
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