Monday, 5 January 2015

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (2/5)

First published: 1993
Page count: 168

The back says: In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele -- Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles -- as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties.
Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.

I say: I often hear about books that I tell myself I’m going to read, and then somehow forget about them for a few months/years/decades and when I finally pick them up - full of anticipation – it can only go one of three ways; either I fall in irrevocable love; in irrevocable hate; or in irrevocable nothing with it.

I fell in nothing with this.

Just pure meh.

This is a memoir, which always makes me a bit wary with my reviews, but to be completely honest I found nothing little about Keyser interesting – all the people she described in the mental ward were more interesting than she was. Perhaps this was a manifestation of her illness, I don’t know, but she makes it hard to even argue that point since she spends the last few chapters arguing that she was never mentally ill at all (she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder).

I can’t even know what to say...

It feels cruel to say that it wasn’t worth the time it took to read, but that’s how I honestly feel. Especially the last few chapters felt extra superfluous; like she has something to prove and I wonder if anyone had cared if it weren’t for the fact that she stayed in McLean Hospital where so many famous people had stayed before her!?

2/5 because of the other girls in the ward who kept me reading.


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