Susanna Kaysen has written a beautifully poignant memoir of her voluntary commitment to a mental institution at the tender age of eighteen. Since her two-year stay began in 1967, her diagnosis and treatment seem a little off by today's standards. What must institutionalization have meant to a young girl from that time? A time when ostracizing people for mental illness was the norm? Though slender, this memoir is packed with valuable and poignant insights as Kaysen looks back … more
Perhaps this work might be titled ESSAY, INTERRUPTED. I am fascinated to imagine how this 'novel' could become a screenplay, starring one of my favorite actresses, Angelina Jolie, although I've yet to see the movie. I enjoyed the rhythm and the flow of fluid descriptive writing, but feel disappointed overall. A short novel can be powerful, but there are lots of us around who can ramble on about our adventures in the sixties. Additionally, I had trouble keeping the similar characters straight. It's … more
When reality got "too dense" for 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen, she was hospitalized. It was 1967, and reality was too dense for many people. But few who are labeled mad and locked up for refusing to stick to an agreed-upon reality possess Kaysen's lucidity in sorting out a maelstrom of contrary perceptions. Her observations about hospital life are deftly rendered; often darkly funny. Her clarity about the complex province of brain and mind, of neuro-chemical activity and something more, make this book of brief essays an exquisite challenge to conventional thinking about what is normal and what is deviant.