The Trick Is to Keep Breathing: A Novel

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Janice Galloway's inventive first novel is about the breakdown of a 27-year-old drama teacher named Joy Stone. The problems of everyday living accumulate and begin to torture Joy, who blames her problems not on her work or on the accidental drowning of her illicit lover, but on herself. While painful and deeply serious, this is a novel of great warmth and energy: it's the wit and irony found in moments of despair that prove to be Joy's salvation. First published by Polygon in ...

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Overview

Janice Galloway's inventive first novel is about the breakdown of a 27-year-old drama teacher named Joy Stone. The problems of everyday living accumulate and begin to torture Joy, who blames her problems not on her work or on the accidental drowning of her illicit lover, but on herself. While painful and deeply serious, this is a novel of great warmth and energy: it's the wit and irony found in moments of despair that prove to be Joy's salvation. First published by Polygon in 1989 and Dalkey Archive Press in 1994, now available again.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Meticulously observed, agonizing and funny... [an] unconventional account of clinical depression... --Publishers Weekly

Dalkey Archive Press

"Galloway provides sentences blazing with light, a gorgeous draft of terror." --Observer

Dalkey Archive Press

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Meticulously observed, agonizing and funny, this unconventional account of clinical depression marks the novelistic debut of the author of the praised short-story collection Blood . Drama teacher Joy Stone has become severely depressed following the death of her married lover. Surrounded by his effects in the house they briefly shared, she can't summon the will to work or even to eat, nor can she benefit from the concern of her friends. Interspersed flashbacks to the day of her lover's death have a sensual, physical quality that contrasts vividly with Joy's present detachment. The nature of Joy's illness--and its accurate depiction, captured partly by an unusual spacing of the text in addition to journal entries, interviews and impressionistic passages--makes her a difficult choice for a narrator: readers may lose patience with her lassitude or be unwilling to put in the time needed to decipher the basic plot. However, the ironic, self-mocking tone that ultimately saves Joy also saves the narrative. Faced with an impersonal health care system, her sense of the ridiculous takes over, and with it self-reliance. Galloway delivers a thoughtful, witty chronicle of depression and potential renewal. (May)
Library Journal
Imagine yourself walking across a tightrope that doesn't stay taut and perfectly still, so that keeping your balance is difficult. This is Joy Stone's task. A prolonged depression, the source of which is never identified, propels her to a psychiatric hospital for help. But help is what she gets precious little of, in spite of meeting with a bunch of generally nameless doctors-a simple yet brilliant way to depict the impersonal nature of the hospital and how doctors and patients interact. Joy narrates by means of journal entries interspersed with letters and snippets of songs or poems, and vivid descriptions stand out. Joy does not indulge in self-pity about her depression or guilt over the accidental death of the married man with whom she had an affair. The journal format makes the book seem choppy at times, but the choppiness reinforces the sense of being off balance. Joy leaves the hospital just as she entered it-voluntarily. This absorbing winner of a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and shortlisted entry for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Scottish First Book of the Year is for most fiction collections.-Lisa Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564780812
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 8/27/2014
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.57 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Janice Galloway's first novel The Trick Is to Keep Breathing is now widely regarded as a classic of Scottish literature; it was shortlisted for three major prizes and won the MIND/Allan Lane Book of the Year. Her second novel, Foreign Parts, won both the McVitie's Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award. Her latest book, This Is Not About Me, won the SAC nonfiction Book of the Year Award in 2009. Galloway lives in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Purchase

    Unable to purchase on my nook but unsure why. It says its not available for my nook

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2003

    Beautiful

    I can't believe this book isn't more popular in the States! Ms. Galloway uses a very unique writing style and the result is absolutely amazing and beautiful. I enjoyed it so much, I didn't want it to end! It's been a while since a book has left me feeling that way! Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    the trick really is to keep breathing

    I had heard the song by Garbage titled "The Trick is To Keep Breathing." I noticed in the credits for the CD that the title was used from a book. So I searched for it and found it here. Needless to say it is a great book. Dealing with her depression she takes you through some of her everyday trials and oddities. It will make you laugh and at one point probably make you go out of your mind. Her writing style is very unique. If you liked The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, you'll like The Trick is To Keep Breathing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    wonderful...

    One of my absolute favourite books! I loved everything - there are some very poetical qualities about this novel... amongst other lovelies. Definitely worth the read...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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