The editor, herself a writer and one who has suffered depressive episodes, collects a series of personal essays or illness narratives about experiences with depression. Her contributors are all artists, primarily writers, who generally but not exclusively speak to the relationship between their art and their mood disorders. Some of the essays included have been previously published, but most are original contributions to this collection. The collection is introduced by Kay Redfield Jamison whose academic work has examined the relationship between creativity and depression, including manic-depressive disease.


As is common to a collection of this sort, the quality and foci of the essays are widely variable. Some are difficult to follow, perhaps because of the mental status of the writers, and others are clear, painfully self-revealing, and linear as chronicles of journeys into and out of depression.

There seem to be two weaknesses in the collection: (1) the contributor biographies at the end of the collections are sketchy, so that the reader who may not be familiar with the persona and the creative work of a given essayist is left wanting more detail and (2) there is no information as to how the contributors were chosen or what common questions they were asked to address. Despite these caveats, the collection is useful as an addition to the subgenre of illness narrative and it should be useful to the work of those persons who are attempting to study the relationship between creativity and depressive states.


William Morrow

Place Published

New York



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