Cindy's Reviews > Madness: A Bipolar Life

Madness by Marya Hornbacher
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May 03, 12

bookshelves: memoirs
Read in April, 2012

"Madness" is the follow up memoir to "Wasted," Hornbacher's first memoir on her experience with a severe eating disorder that nearly took her life. This book, published 3 years after "Wasted," explores her diagnosis of manic depression and the resulting events and hospitalizations she endured while suffering from this condition. The author also questions whether her eating disorder and subsequent alcoholism may have been ignited by her previously undiscovered mental illness.

The book was an interesting read and certainly moved along at a fast clip as I become absorbed in the details of each new hospitalization or other tragic event that became the tapestry of the author's life. The writing is good, but not great, and there is a slight tendency on the part of the author to grandstand and romanticize her condition and experiences. This was the case with "Wasted" as well, but I can forgive her this indulgence as I know manic depression, when one is manic, can cause the person to view much about themselves and their experience as fascinating and exhilarating and something everyone else must find equally spellbinding. For instance, both books have a penchant for telling us how promiscuous the author was and she seems to revel a bit in the telling of the extent of sexual partners she added to her collection and how blase she was about it all. And as with "Wasted," this book frequently swoons in scenes of how the author was treated and how she casually reacted to attempts at therapy and hospitalization; she has a bit of the Brett Easton Ellis brand of self-indulgence in the descriptions of the poor protagonist who just wants to be left alone to look and be the epitome of cool. Fortunately, she garners just enough empathy to make me care about her fate, and again most is forgiven because in the end, this is an absorbing memoir and ultimately gave me a decent glimpse into the everyday life of manic depression.
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