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The Rules of the Tunnel: A Brief Period of Madness

3.11 of 5 stars 3.11  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A journalist faces his toughest assignment yet: profiling himself. Zeman recounts his struggle with clinical depression in this high- octane, brutally funny memoir about mood disorders, memory, shock treatment therapy and the quest to get back to normal.

Thirty-five million Americans suffer from clinical depression. But Ned Zeman never thought he'd be one of them. He came
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 4th 2011 by Gotham
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f you've never had problems with clinical depression, I can tell you from hard experience that it sucks. It's painful physically and emotionally. It's economically disastrous since it makes it very hard to work regularly. It's life-threatening. It turns the world into a muddy gray place that you are required to endure and you do so by the absolute hardest.

It makes you feel like you have barbed wire instead of veins. It makes it impossible to leave the couch much less the house. There have been
Luanne Ollivier
Ned Zeman had it all - a career that was going well - he'd just landed a job as an editor at Vanity Fair magazine, a wonderful family, a fantastic group of friends and no lack of female company.

Was it the move? The pressure to succeed in his new position? His somewhat conflicted relationship with his latest girlfriend? Zeman found himself floundering - he was in the grip of a severe depression, soon unable to function. He sought help from therapists, medication and hospitalization. As the depres
Once I got over the annoying second-person narrative technique ("You woke up in a panic, struggling to remember..." No, Ned, YOU woke up in a panic struggling to remember, I woke up with a cat barfing up a hairball on my bedroom rug) I was intrigued by this story of bipolar disorder, ECT, and the resulting amnesia. Memoirs by investigative journalists are usually pretty good -- it's interesting to see what happens when they turn those laser beams inward. (Best one ever: David Carr's "The Night o ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Sam rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to Sam by: GoodReads
The Rules of the Tunnel was an incredible disappointment. Being bipolar myself I read quite a few memoirs of mental illness to compare the experiences of others as well as their perspectives on their situation. Zeman’s, however, blew. Browsing GoodReaders’ supportive reviews, I’m confident that most were won over based simply on upon the semi-controversial content (mental illness, drugs, the overt selfishness on the part of Zeman, ECT, etc.) and name-dropping (Chris Farley, Richard Gere, Anna Fa ...more
I have to say, although I love the topic, and I love the wit, I was disappointed with the language in this book. The author, although clearly very accomplished....he has written for Vanity Fair and I have not so who am I to say anything???? uses "you" instead of "I" as if to keep some distance between himself and himself.

His story is about his career as a journalist and the time where everything comes crashing down. He can not work and, ultimately, checks himself into the Pavillion at MacLean Ho
I stole this book from a friend who's in publishing. I expected it to be kind of dark and depressing. But although it sometimes gets dark, and can be quite moving, it's certainly not depressing. The thing crackles with wit and is sometimes lol funny. It's a different take on depression -- and one that's much needed. Also quite touching. I think this writer has tapped a nerve here.
Thanks to goodreads First Reads for my free copy of The Rules of the Tunnel.

Others here have already reviewed the plot pretty extensively - in a nutshell, writer and reporter suffers from depression, medications fail to provide continued help, and after resorting to ECT, finds that he's lost two years of memories.

With that in mind, I think Zeman does an excellent job of portraying how scattered and disorientating his life was during this time. As the reader you're never 100% certain of what he
Sara Strand
I've never been shy about talking about my own struggles with depression and several people around me suffer from varying degrees of mental illness, so I am not a stranger to a lot of the things talked about in this book. I will also say that I found myself shaking my head and laughing because it's so damn honest, at the same time feeling bad that I'm laughing at a person's situation.

Did I learn anything from this book? Absolutely. I learned that medication is scary, deceitful and it doesn't al
Who knew that reading a memoir about depression, mania and amnesia could be so much fun? You read about Ned Zeman's descent into madness and begin to feel a bit mad yourself. You wonder if your aren't possibly bipolar. But you don't feel depressed for a moment while reading this manic handbook of his journey through today's mental health system.

Ned Zeman, a long-time writer for Vanity Fair, has that zippy, ironic, right up to the moment style. He knows his territory because that is what reporter
Jill Elizabeth
The Rules of the Tunnel is author Ned Zeman’s story about his “brief period of madness” – otherwise known as his lifelong experience with depression and anxiety disorders seasoned with his stint with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). A review copy of the book was provided free of charge by

By all appearances, Ned had it all – he was a writer for Vanity Fair, “work” consisted of dividing his time between fairly glamorous book/magazine parties and celebrity interviews, lived in N
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Aug 14, 2011 Jeannie and Louis Rigod rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeannie and Louis by: Goodreads
Shelves: first-reads-read
First of all, I am so grateful to Ned Zeman and his publishing house, Gotham Books for allowing me to read this fascinating novel as a "First-Read." here on Goodreads.

This novel is an exploration of a time in the Author's life. The book begins with a stunning prologue that honestly made me feel uncomfortable. This was excellent, as I was, most likely, experiencing exactly what Mr. Zeman had been experiencing. The terrifying downward spiral into clinical depression.

Mr. Zeman employs the use of "Y
Heidi Wiechert
This book is for anyone who has ever struggled with mood disorders or have watched friends/family members suffer through them.

Zeman succinctly describes so many parts of the process so honestly and clearly that, even if you haven't lived through it (an EPISODE), you feel as if you have: the horrific side effects of the brain chemical changing cocktails, the humiliating behavior that occurs during mania which alienates your support network and brings into your life exactly the wrong people, the i
Kayla Perry
I kind of skimmed the end because I was sort of done with the book 7/8 in. Hell, I was done with the book halfway in but pursued it anyways. Part of it is because I have my own mental illnesses and it's nice sometimes to read someone else's problems and see or not see myself in them. I like the idea of being able to access this kind of experience without going out into the world and trying to awkwardly wrangle it from another human being.

That being said, I couldn't stand this guy. He was privile
Jacqueline Hager-Bodnar
This was a book club read and I really enjoyed it. I liked the angle that he used to tell the story. He's an investigative journalist who writes stories about people (particularly, other writers who struggle with their own mood issues). That's exactly what he did here, only it's about himself. The style in which he wrote it made perfect sense. I loved all the "writer" stuff in it and found it all interesting. I also liked learning the stories about the writers that he researched and wrote about. ...more
Red Ferry
Jun 13, 2011 Red Ferry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: memoirs, depression, ECT, humor
"The Rules of the Tunnel" by Ned Zeman

Vanity Fair magazine contributor Ned Zeman's memoir of battling mental illness
is funny as well as harrowing. After years of therapy and medication fail to
lift his mood enough to function well as a writer, he opts for he last resort,
ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), recommended by doctors after he checks himself
into the infamous McLean Hospital (Sylvia Plath, William Styron and John Nash
being 'graduates' of that institution).
Despite mild warnings of side effe
“Mental Illness in Action”

The dust jacket of Ned Zeman’s “Rules of The Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness” describes him as a successful Vanity Fair writer “suddenly” debilitated by depression and anxiety requiring electro-shock treatment with resulting memory loss. While entertaining, Rules of the Tunnel is actually a narcissistic romp through the mind of a man who will likely be in the headlines, a victim of the same manic early death he wrote about in the profiles he identified with too heav
I suppose the oddest thing about this book is the way Zeman seems to have a collection of friends who would have done anything short of killing themselves to help him. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why, and to his credit it seems he often felt the same way.

To my mind the narrative didn't really hang together particularly well, but that was more than offset by the stories he had to tell, and how he told them. I suppose the jump from the magazine world to authoring a book meant interes
I was pleased to win this in a giveaway -- it's one that particularly caught my interest.

Oddly, I think Zeman sums it up best (via his therapist's words, anyway): "'Look, you understand yourself. You know the story. But, honestly, I've never met someone who understands himself with such detachment.'" (p. 190)

His writing is unquestionably strong. It's a complex story, and he has the technical skills to carry it off. Where the book loses me, though, is in the voice. He is so detached -- when talki
Ned Zeman had it all. A lucrative career as writer and editor at Vanity Fair, great friends and what would appear to be a great life. But he suffered from depression and anxiety and it took over his life. In The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness, Zeman takes us into his mind, letting us glimpse what it might be like to suffer as he has.

As a writer and editor, I found interest in Zeman's descriptions of his work, the processes and relationships between writers and editors. He tells
I received this book for free through First Reads. I was very excited to read this book and it did not disappoint. While hard to follow at times, it seemed extremely accurate for what the author must have been experiencing at that time. I admire anyone who lives with mental illness amd is willing to share their story. I feel for the author and the struggles he endured due to his mental illness. He was fortunate enough to have wonderful supports and the financial meams to receive treatments that ...more
Aug 26, 2011 Wanda added it
I was excited to find out I had won this book on Goodreads, but disappointed when I sat down to read it. I found this book very difficult to follow. It was not well written and the author left me feeling confused and at a loss as to where he was going.
It is the true story of a Vanity Fair writer who descended into hell because of his depression and of his struggle to climb out of the hole caused by the depression and the amensia whic resulted from the electro-shock therapy he chose to undergo.
Years ago I read The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison about her struggle with bipolar disorder. I loved it. I learned so much about what bipolar people go through and felt such empathy for her.

I had expected a similar experience with this book about Ned Zeman's depression and amnesia brought on by electroconvulsive therapy. But not so much. I just didn't care for his writing style. I know he's a highly successful reporter, but it just seemed like he was trying way too hard to sound cool. A m
Hey - it was pretty funny being inside Ned's Head (almost like Being Ned Zeman). I was impressed how his inner conversations could keep me entertained, and not fade off like I expected. And that lasted for 75% of the book. When the author brought us down from his battles with drugs and depression, it was though he lost his edge and then everything appeared pedestrian. Granted: people with his experiences can appear larger than life, and the trouble of "three small people don't amount to a hill o ...more
Wow...his writing was madness too but I liked it anyway. I felt like he was talking in some crazy messed up English sometimes that I'm not able to understand. (Maybe I'm the crazy one) It's a great look back on his struggle and I'm glad for him that he's able to laugh now. He's so honest and strong to tell about his years in different therapies. He has great friends...I hope he still has them! And I hope his losing his father didn't start a new chapter of sadness. I was really sad when David Fos ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: won-it
WOW! I really enjoyed this true life account of Ned's madness. That may sound harsh but, I know, I have been "there" too. I learned some new things and remembered some things. This book explains so much, everyone should read this book because everyone knows someone with a emotional disorder. This book sheds light on so many areas that have been kept in the dark for far too long. The Rules of the Tunnel is fast paced and an easy read while bringing to light some of life's dirty little secrets. If ...more
I don't know if it was the book or me. I only made it halfway so it really isn't fair to rate it. The truth is I just couldn't read anymore because I just didn't care. I know Ned makes it through because apparently he wrote a book about it. I was interested in the period of madness advertised, but maybe the subtitle "A 'Brief' Period of Madness" was meant to translate the amount of time actually focusing on this madness within the context of the book.
Overall I think my expectations killed this
Very good memoir. I always enjoy learning of lives outside my realm of experience, and this one did well to remind me of the ones who can't cope. Where emotion is not balanced by rational. I found myself sympathizing with the author and his friends while they dealt with his problems. Also enjoyed how he left things unsaid and thus hinted at as to his behavior. I would recommend this to friends. Only fell short of five stars because it didn't blow me away, and should have gone deeper.
This book was a cacophony of experiences which assaulted my emotions and intellect while I laughed aloud. Very clever and hard to put down even at the points I felt like skipping pages because I was losing interest. Though even when I had to skip pages because the narration was droning, I felt like I was entwined within the emotions of his bipolar episodes. So in an essence, the droning on painfully about one topic was sharing the misery of a low depressive rut. Great book.
I enjoyed this book. The second person perspective was interesting - and I kept looking for a spot where the perspective changed, but I never did. The pace was reflective of the mood presented which is nice. And the switching between stories kept it moving at a fast pace. I'm not sure that the two page summation at the end really is effective - but as it was brief I wont complain too much. I would definitely recommend this read.
This captured my interest immediately as Zeman describes dealing with his amnesia induced by ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) which may or may not be temporary. The following description of his descent into mental illness elicits empathy, but is messy and disjointed. He refers to himself as "you" throughout which is disconcerting--maybe he hasn't worked through to ownership of this period in his life.
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