Your Voice in My Head

Your Voice in My Head

3.8 18
by Emma Forrest
     
 

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Emma Forrest, a British journalist, was just twenty-two and living the fast life in New York City when she realized that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity. In a cycle of loneliness, damaging relationships, and destructive behavior, she found herself in the chair of a slim, balding, and effortlessly optimistic psychiatrist—a man whose wisdom and humanity

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Overview

Emma Forrest, a British journalist, was just twenty-two and living the fast life in New York City when she realized that her quirks had gone beyond eccentricity. In a cycle of loneliness, damaging relationships, and destructive behavior, she found herself in the chair of a slim, balding, and effortlessly optimistic psychiatrist—a man whose wisdom and humanity would wrench her from the dangerous tide after she tried to end her life. She was on the brink of drowning, but she was still working, still exploring, still writing, and she had also fallen deeply in love. One day, when Emma called to make an appointment with her psychiatrist, she found no one there. He had died, shockingly, at the age of fifty-three, leaving behind a young family. Reeling from the premature death of a man who had become her anchor after she turned up on his doorstep, she was adrift. And when her all-consuming romantic relationship also fell apart, Emma was forced to cling to the page for survival and regain her footing on her own terms.
   A modern-day fairy tale, Your Voice in My Head is a stunning memoir, clear-eyed and shot through with wit. In her unique voice, Emma Forrest explores the highs and lows of love and the heartbreak of loss.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Your Voice in My Head is part of a literary tradition that began long before Susanna Kaysen’s girlhood was interrupted or Elizabeth Wurtzel got her first Prozac prescription. . . [Forrest is] talented . . . through these words we share her insight: there’s something to be said for occasionally listening to a voice other than your own.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Her psychiatrist dies, then her lover leaves. A memoir about finding strength when you least expect to.” —People Magazine

“[An] admirably airy and riveting book…Emma Forrest is such a winning, smart writer…”—Nick Hornby, The Believer

“If you’re reading one memoir this year, probably make it Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head.” —Jewcy

“A brilliantly realized memoir of surprise and startling beauty.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Emma Forrest is an incredibly gifted writer, who crafted the living daylights out of every sentence in this unforgettable memoir. I can’t remember the last time I ever read such a blistering, transfixing story of obsession, heartbreak and slow, stubborn healing.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Emma Forrest is as hilarious as she is wise. And did I mention generous? Unlike most memoirs this is not merely a song of oneself, but a debt of gratitude repaid to an incredible man—her psychiatrist. Your Voice In My Head is touching, funny, and very real.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“I read Your Voice in My Head in one sitting, by turns laughing out loud, gasping with recognition, and fighting to hold back tears—and wondering, of course, who is Emma Forrest and how is she able to write with such enormous wit and bravery about subjects most folks can’t muster the courage to bring up in conversation: suicide, self-loathing, loneliness, depression, mania, and, most of all, love inexplicably lost.” —Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
  
“Forrest’s insightful and snappily-written account of her lengthy battles against depression, self-harm, damaging relationships, and potato-based fried snacks is heartfelt and touching and surprisingly funny.” —Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, Dazed and Confused
 
“A bittersweet love letter . . . It is a brilliant read.” —Sunday Times Style Magazine 
 
“[Your Voice in My Head] dances along with all the lyrical panache of a novel . . . Her prose is smart and frequently witty and there are echoes of early Lorrie Moore.” —Julie Myerson, The Observer

“Forrest is stylish and evocative; whether she is sick and listless in New York or sex-dipped and radiantly happy in Los Angeles, she writes it cool, clever, and ravaging, in very few strokes. . . Her story is crushing and complicated, and entirely common . . . It's gorgeous.” —The Globe and Mail

Your Voice in My Head is every drink that’s ever started out sweet then turned strong enough to sneak up on you and kick your ass to the floor, or bed, or hell, or heaven.” —Dan Kennedy, author of Loser Goes First, Rock On, and host of The Moth storytelling podcast

Publishers Weekly
Forrest's memoir of suffering from mania, bulimia, and self-mutilation is written with such candor, humor, and lush, sensual prose it becomes, quite surprisingly, a rich, often riotous, pleasure to listen to. A British transplant to New York City at 22, on contract with the Guardian and completing her first novel, Forrest notices that her "quirks had gone beyond eccentricity" and she dissolves into self-loathing and self-destructive relationships—until she makes a fortuitous connection with her "savior," a psychiatrist, Dr. R. The unsparing, unsentimental narrative is beautifully served by Forrest's reading. Her voice is low, halting; she confides rather than narrates, and she switches easily from the confessional mode to rollicking sendups of her family members and friends—her father's Sean Connery brogue, her grandmother who sounds like a Yiddish Prunella Scales, her squeaky baby sister, and every variety of New York accent. Less impressive, and more than slightly offensive, however are her depictions of minorities. Her crude "Chinese" and "Indian" accents are cringe inducing. An Other Press hardcover. (June)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590514467
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

I was looking for weekend work, and though it was a Saturday job at a hairdresser’s I was after, somewhere in my teenage mind I thought that Ophelia might need a handmaiden. So, every day after school, before my mum got home, I would cycle to the Tate Gallery to visit
Millais’ muse.
   I didn’t want a Saturday job at a hairdresser and bike riding was not my forte, but I was conscious that I was a thirteen-year-old and thirteen-year-olds ride bikes for fun and wash hair for tip money. Later I would understand that disconnect: “This is how and what I am supposed to want, and so I will try.”
   Approaching the Tate, I knew what was coming. I could see Ophelia’s Titian hair, her white body floating down the river, the flowers around her. Sometimes, when I got there, she was dead. Other times she was still dying and could be saved by someone on the riverbank I’d never seen before. Someone Millais had sketched and then painted over, under the pigment, taking shallow breaths so as not to be seen—a man who’d let her act it out, but who wouldn’t let her drown.
   Though I’d never had sex, there were days when Ophelia seemed to be caught in a sexual act, her arms reached above her, her mouth open, beneath an invisible lover. A long time later—after I’d been in love—I knew that she could not let go on the banks as she drifted by. The flowers beg her stay in the moment. His scent keeps her locked in the past. Those afternoons, the Tate was populated by a combination of the brightly patterned elderly and young, hip gallery patrons in black (the former keeping out of the rain.The latter longing for rain to get caught in).There was always at least one pickup going on. But mainly, on the leather banquette, in the center of the grand room, I’d sit in front of Millais’ painting, eating a secret bag of crisps, and cry.

Meet the Author

Emma Forrest is the author of three novels and editor of the nonfiction essay collection Damage Control. Raised in London, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she is a screenwriter.

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