Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Shouldn't summer reading be light and frothy? For whatever reason, I've been going in the opposite direction.
I listened to the audio version of Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher, a chronicle of the author's struggle with rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder--the most severe form of the affliction. It was an intense but very thought-provoking listening experience. Marya, a hugely talented writer, cycles way up and way down, through years of bad advice and faulty diagnoses. Even a correct diagnosis isn't 100% of the answer, as the patient needs to understand and internalize best-practice plans even when her thinking is clearly at odds. It took Ms. Hornbacher years to come to grips with her unpredictable mind processes and to understand how to best care for herself.
Most of us have it so easy by comparison.
Listening added to the impact of this book. It felt like the chaotic thought patterns were hurtling at me and through me--the reader gets a real sense of what it's like to live in the author's head.
I love the Slate Audio Book Club. I've been listening to the podcast and then reading the books AFTER the discussion, which is bass-ackwards for sure. But it's introduced me to some books I never would have found on my own. A case in point: Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen, another book delving into mental instability and convoluted thinking. A man believes his wife has been replaced by a stand-in, and sets off to find his real wife. Along the way, there are discussions on parallel worlds, messages in the weather, emails from dead meteorologists, and plenty of odd thinking and tilted logic. It was dark and challenging but fun.