I loved this book not only because it tells a story of a jock turned poet but also because it confirms my own experience with the therapeutic nature of literature. This memoir describes the author's jagged path across various manifestations of bipolar disorder. But these are all informed by his reading of the Romantic cannon, which provides him with considerable solace. Ultimately literature is not enough. Appropriate medications, therapy, religious and secular epiphanies, as well as a loving wife and daughter are needed to help steer this complex individual away from suicide toward a life of grace. My favorite part was his observation on the "irreducible gap between word and world." To be sure no psychiatric diagnosis (word) can ever measure up to anyone's experience (world). But surely having that diagnosis must invariably change that world. That change is described honestly and without excessive sentimentality. Other important questions concerning the relationship between altered mood and altered thought and between spirituality and mental illness receive some attention. But in the end, it is the author's relationship with literature as much as his struggle with bipolar disorder that made his book a great read.
This short book is a memoir of a young man's battle with depression. It focuses on one slice of his life and demonstrates a reflective analysis and the courage to write about the mental aspects he was experiencing. The book had a positive impact on me - to not fear writing about our thoughts and feelings as a way to work through them. The author makes a distinction between depression and melancholy, something that was very thought-provoking. References from other writers and poets were part of many sub-chapters which will lead to additional reading. This short, simple, honest, and personal book will be re-read as inspiration for my writing.