“In a field/I am the absence/of field,” says the first line of Mark Strand’s poem Keeping things whole, used with permission at the start of Doug Westberg’sThe Depressed Guy’s Book of Wisdom. It's a singularly appropriate way to set the scene. This book is indeed a book of wisdom, filled with fascinating factoids, absurd aphorisms and curious conundrums to tangle your thought processes. It’s a depressed guy’s book because it’s written about depression and it has a pleasingly consistent guy-centric sense of humor. But it’s also a book that almost describes depression to the non-depressed, rather like describing red and blue to the color-blind (yes, I got that from the book). Odd quotes, poems and amusing anecdotes are scattered in the form of Gags & Handcuffs, Pithy Inthights, Depressed Guy’s Almanac and more. And there’s even a foreword situated somewhere after everything else.
The author tells of depression with humor, irony, musical poetry and powerful analogy. He’s a musician and composer who dropped out of college due to alcoholism and depression. He quotes Lao Tzy, Charles M Schultz, Woody Allen, the Bible and more. He explains cosmology and Alice through the Looking Glass. He lists the world’s most famous depressed geniuses. He offers sensible advice from many sources. And his book is a clever, amusing, quick read, great resource for dark humor and quotes, and an honest depiction of an illness too often and too easily dismissed. Read it. You’ll laugh and cry, possibly over spilt milk.
Disclosure: I received a free ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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My writing (poetry, songs, humor) draws heavily and unflinchingly on my experiences with depression as well as other topics (including recovery from child abuse and Catholicism—but I repeat myself). Depressed Guy’s Book Of Wisdom began when I decided to try my hand at writing a humor book. I already employ a great deal of sharply satirical humor in my lyrics and poetry. My battle with depression seemed like good fodder and a relatively original angle. The end result is a unique collection of personal anecdotes, gags, twisted sayings, lyrics, poems, and quotations. The punchline being of primary importance, the anecdotes may be completely true or largely nonsense, but are always rooted in personal experience. My intent is to use humor and irony to explore my experiences, exercise my perspective, and focus a spotlight on the difficulties and unfair perceptions of dealing with and recovering from depression. Most importantly, I hope it will lighten for a moment the hearts and the burdens of all who read it.