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The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo 12 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.
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By Augusta on 01-12-13
Gut Wrenching, Realistic and Riveting
This book is told from the perspective of Greyson, a successful studio executive who struggles to deal with his bi-polar illness, and when he feels he can't, leaves his wife and child in the middle of the night and travels the world, making decisions based on his emotional swings.
It was a very difficult book to read. It is (what I imagine) a fairly realistic depiction of one person with mental health issues. Overall I am glad I read it, and it was very compelling.
One caveat, the book has 3 main timelines, and one of them I found almost unbearable. The language, sexual promiscuity, debauchery and descriptions were truly disturbing. It was true "madness". I had to stop reading because I felt physically sick. "Listening" to the audiobook may have made it worse because I couldn't just skin over those pages. If this particular plotline had gone on any longer, I would have stopped, but thankfully the book moved on to another timeline and I began to appreciate it again.
I'm not sure I can say I "enjoyed" the book, but I was drawn in by the secondary characters and the subject matter. The ending was realistic, and provided some meaningful dialogue (between Greyson and his psychiatrist) of what individuals with serious mental illness can expect as far as management of the disease. And without oversimplifying the reality, it finished with a glimpse of hope - which I don't think I've ever been so happy to read.
79 of 81 people found this review helpful
By Kirsten on 01-15-13
The publisher's summary does a faithful description of this book, but does not begin to accentuate the stunning, shocking detail of the writing. Although the subject matter is not for the faint of heart (and at times can be downright repulsive!), the description of mental illness in Garey's moving, relentless prose is nothing short of art.
I've been bored by much of the recent, highly-rated fiction on offer. The "Hollywood Ending," the "weird-for-weird's-sake," the "sex-as-shock-value." Too Bright; Too Loud eschews all of that and instead takes the reader on a believable (if relentless) journey into the mind of a sufferer of bi-polar disorder. Greyson's personal journey is foreshadowed by the journey of his own father, and that mirroring (IMO) is the brilliance of this book. No further spoilers!
If you are squeamish about sex/ drug/ alcohol abuse, and/or you don't do well with explicit language, go elsewhere: this book will blast you. If you seek compelling narrative, believable characters and real-life drama (and can handle the truth!) this book might be for you. It opens a window to the understanding of bi-polar disorder and the genesis and progression of the disease. Its protagonist represents a pathologically flawed and yet "loveable" character, and in the end (no spoilers) offers a glimmer of hope for suffers and those who love (and are created by) them.
The narrator was perfect, in my opinion.
Downsides: the prose is relentless and gritty, sometimes revolting. Really gross. The narration spans about 40 years of history, given in piecemeal vignettes. I often find this kind of structure frustrating in audio format because it's difficult to refer to previous episodes in an effort to accurately track the progression of the overall narrative.
Final comment: I enjoyed this novel a great deal and recommend it to readers who are looking for something vibrant, meaningful and real.
67 of 70 people found this review helpful