Descent: A Memoir of Madness

Descent: A Memoir of Madness

3.0 1
by David Guterson
     
 

From the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: a poignant, searching memoir about one man's fall into depression in the wake of a national tragedy, and his brave struggle to return to normalcy.
     Like most of the country and the world, David Guterson woke up on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, not thinking history was about to…  See more details below

Overview

From the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: a poignant, searching memoir about one man's fall into depression in the wake of a national tragedy, and his brave struggle to return to normalcy.
     Like most of the country and the world, David Guterson woke up on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, not thinking history was about to change. He was in Washington, D.C., with a group of fellow writers, evaluating grant applications for the National Endowment of the Arts. But before their work day had even begun, the Pentagon was bombed; the Twin Towers were down in New York City; and havoc was wreaked irrevocably on our collective sense of happiness, security, and national pride. Scrambling to get out of the city and back home any way he could, David, along with two fellow writers, rented a car and drove 2,600 miles across the country to Seattle.  But the attacks triggered something inside him, a pervasive feeling of hopelessness, fear, despair--a clinical depression that that would not go away. He lost interest in his work, family, friends--his life. Inspired by William Styron's masterful Darkness Visible, Guterson's Descent is the searing account of one man's envelopment by the darkest of human emotions, and his tunneling out. Powerful, intense, and deeply felt, it is at once personal and universally illuminating--a confession from a great literary mind who takes us on a journey of what it feels like, and means, to lose one's grasp on the world--and to find it once more, even if by fumbling in the dark.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
A writerly account of the downward spiral of clinical depression. Writing about one's own depression presents unique challenges. Sinking into the abyss typically renders the writer incapable of writing, so such memoirs are almost invariably written well after the fact, with the writer describing what, at the time, seemed an affectless void. Prize-winning novelist Guterson (Ed King, 2011, etc.) differs from many in knowing specifically what triggered his depression and exactly when it started. He was in Washington, D.C., during the attacks of 9/11 and found himself not only devastated, but wondering how others could resume their lives, almost as if nothing had happened: "Anyone not despondent, I believed, was wearing blinders. The rightness of unhappiness was obvious and clear. The only reasonable response to the world was an overwhelming and excruciating sadness; everything else was willful delusion." Reasonable enough, but neither his drive home to Washington state nor the months that followed lifted his spirits. Guterson consulted therapists, took pills and pondered suicide. It's impossible to criticize the recovery and catharsis reflected in this manuscript, but it's plain that he's no longer at a loss for words and that those words seem self-consciously literary. Of discussing his condition with his family, he writes, "There is such a thing as filial indulgence and a manner of discourse possible between siblings that's possible nowhere else. In other words, our dialogue was fraught with complication to the point of a compelling Freudian mootness." Only in the last few pages does he turn the corner toward a recovery more gradual and less specifically causal (pills? time? love?) than the shock that blindsided him. A slim addition to a long bookshelf on depression.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804169257
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/10/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
586,137
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

David Guterson is the author of the novels Snow Falling on Cedars (which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award), East of the Mountains, The Other, Our Lady of the Forest (a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer Best Book of the Year), and most recently, Ed King; two story collections, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind and the forthcoming Problems with People; and a work of nonfiction, Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Washington State.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound
Date of Birth:
May 4, 1956
Place of Birth:
Seattle, Washington
Education:
M.A., University of Washington

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Descent: A Memoir of Madness 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only 58 pages