Joy's Reviews > The Noonday Demon: An Atlas Of Depression

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
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Apr 15, 10

bookshelves: re-read, psychology, health-medicine
Read in April, 2010, read count: 2

I first read this shortly after it came out, and I remember liking it then. Apparently I have become a much pickier reader of nonfiction in the last decade, as I liked it much less this time around.

The Noonday Demon is unsatisfactory on a number of fronts. As science writing, it's insufficiently rigorous and awfully anecdotal; it tends toward summary and eschews proper footnotes in the name of "readability". I like footnotes and citations; I find most arguments for avoiding them in this kind of writing disingenuous at best. As memoir, it's too self-absorbed. No doubt this is partly a symptom of his condition, but Solomon's frequent blindness to his own privilege doesn't exactly help his case. And I care a lot less about Solomon's sex life than he appears to think I should.

On the other hand, it does succeed in capturing the raw experience of depression. The chronology of Solomon's breakdowns is especially effective. And Solomon does know how to turn a phrase.

Not a bad read, but not a good one. It's more a memoir than the subtitle might lead you to think; reader, be warned.
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Anne >>As memoir, it's too self-absorbed.<<
Sorry, I had to giggle at that. ;-) I wonder what an example of a memoir that's not "self-absorbed" would be. I'm not being sarcastic, btw.

>>No doubt this is partly a symptom of his condition, but Solomon's frequent blindness to his own privilege doesn't exactly help his case.<<
I was wondering about this as I read...how much of his, for lack of better term, style, is because of the disease itself, and how much "just" personality, or are they one in the same?
I didn't find his obvious wealth as off-putting as some reviewers, mostly because somewhere along the line,(can't remember where, sorry) he did mention his gratefulness of having the resources and support it afforded him. Normally, I'm not so forgiving, but for me, the book drove home the point that even if one is wealthy and well-connected, depression is still hell.

That he wrote it (footnotes and all) while struggling with depression is to me, amazing.

I guess I thought of it more like memoir with a non-fiction bent.


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