Sharp: A Memoir

Sharp: A Memoir

4.8 9
by David Fitzpatrick
     
 

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David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and

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Overview

David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspires readers with his courage, joining the literary ranks of Terri Cheney (Manic), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Marya Hornbacher (Wasted), and Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted).

“A harrowing journey from self-destructive psychosis to a cautious re-emergence into the flickering sunshine of the sane world….Fitzpatrick writes about mental illness with the unsparing intensity of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton but also with the hard-won self-knowledge of William Styron, Kay Jamison, and other chroniclers of disease, recovery, and management…. A must read, remarkably told.”
—Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much is True

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Haunted by demons of mental illness that plagued his ancestors, a young man barely out of college finds release from inner torment in cutting himself, leading to 17 years of being a “professional mental patient.” In this mesmeric, dire memoir of his agonizing journey through hell and back, Fitzpatrick takes extraordinary care in re-creating the cerebral maelstrom that brought on the first breakdown at age 23. The middle child of five in an Irish Catholic family that settled in Guilford, Conn., the author was an athletic kid who adored his parents and had a keen desire to please others, yet endured being bullied, first by his relentless older brother, Andy, then by his Skidmore College roommates who routinely doused him in liquids—milk, mustard, juice—when they were all smoking pot. A combination of low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression over a breakup with a girlfriend precipitated the first cutting incident, leading to the first of many incarcerations in the psychiatric wing of hospitals, shock treatments, “psychotropic cocktails” that increasingly bloated his body, intensive therapy with idiosyncratic doctors, and occasional tender acquaintances with young anorexic women patients. After nearly two decades of spiraling mental illness leading to self-injury, the author was finally able to “recapture his mind” with the help of targeted drugs, therapy, family support, and, perhaps most key, a mission (thanks to Wally Lamb’s encouragement) to write his dark, affecting human story for “the mentally ill voices who don’t ever get to speak, to shout and be heard.” Agent:, Richard Abate. (Sept.)
Wally Lamb
“David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is a must read, remarkably told.”
Kate Christensen
Sharp is a courageously honest book by a gentle, damaged soul who fought his way to the light with a ferocity he never thought he possessed. Fitzpatrick’s recounting of his struggle with severe mental illness shines with intelligence, pain and hard-won, self-confidence. ”
Michael White
“What makes this memoir so riveting and so unforgettable isn’t the myriad of horrors that its narrator inflicts upon himself. It’s the razor-sharp humor and abiding wisdom and depth of humanity with which its author graces the reader. Sharp cuts deep into your heart.”
Rachel Basch
“Tortured and tormented as he was, Fitzpatrick never blinks as he recounts his residency in hell. Piercingly honest, he forces us to recognize and embrace the most broken parts of ourselves. Be forewarned: this book will expand your heart and mind.”
Kirkus Reviews
A young man harrowingly details the depth of a two-decade bout with mental illness. Fitzpatrick's unsettling memoir begins innocently enough with early memories of summers spent on Cape Cod as the middle child of five in an Irish Catholic family. But his bucolic upbringing was marred by his brother's rough, mean-spirited version of sibling horseplay, a string of predatory men inexplicably propositioning him and the merciless emotional and physical mistreatment from his cruel, stoner college roommates. This, coupled with the dissolution of an intense, if short-lived, love affair, perhaps precipitated the initial psychiatric breakdown he had in Boston while in his early 20s. Fitzpatrick found mental relief by randomly slicing into his skin, a behavior he justified by claiming that "it just helps me loosen up." His incremental descent into psychosis sorrowfully continued a familial lineage "spiked with mental illness." The author provides an extensively detailed chronicle of 17 years spent at the mercy of debilitating mental incapacitation as he juggled eccentric psychiatric professionals, potent psychotropic drug cocktails, questionable alternative therapies, lost, depressive female friends and an exhaustive procession of inpatient psychiatric programs. Aided by a precise drug regimen and thoughtful psychiatry, Fitzpatrick quite miraculously managed to restore his sanity a few years ago. There's nothing tentative in the author's intense avalanche of grim histrionics; he writes with a personal urgency initially tapped by author Wally Lamb, who encouraged him to commit his experiences to paper. Fitzpatrick slam-dunks readers into the grim, murky bowels of his psychotic ordeal, yet provides a promising coda for himself and those jonesing for a "normal" life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062064028
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/21/2012
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.14(d)

What People are saying about this

Rachel Basch
“Tortured and tormented as he was, Fitzpatrick never blinks as he recounts his residency in hell. Piercingly honest, he forces us to recognize and embrace the most broken parts of ourselves. Be forewarned: this book will expand your heart and mind.”
Michael White
“What makes this memoir so riveting and so unforgettable isn’t the myriad of horrors that its narrator inflicts upon himself. It’s the razor-sharp humor and abiding wisdom and depth of humanity with which its author graces the reader. Sharp cuts deep into your heart.”
Wally Lamb
“David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is a must read, remarkably told.”
Kate Christensen
Sharp is a courageously honest book by a gentle, damaged soul who fought his way to the light with a ferocity he never thought he possessed. Fitzpatrick’s recounting of his struggle with severe mental illness shines with intelligence, pain and hard-won, self-confidence. ”

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