A cheerful book about depression – a literate but undogmatic guide (part memoir, part companion) to surviving a ‘disease of the imagination’ that is coming to seem like the defining malaise of the early twenty-first century
Depression is assassination. And the depressive is a detective charged with ‘tracking down the perpetrator of his or her own murder.'
Sunbathing in the Rain draws on the strength of poetry in a new form for prose non-fiction. It is intended for those who have suffered from or have seen a relative or friend succumb to depression. The ever growing multi-million dollar market worldwide for anti-depressants attests to the scope of the disease, an epidemic in this century. But this is no mere self-help book, its appeal is much wider.
Whilst the overall structure of Sunbathing in the Rain moves from dark to light, telling the story of Lewis's recovery, its different strands allow a variety of tones and subjects to be explored, from the profound to the frivolous. Alongside a paragraph about the proper relationship between the ego, the mind and the emotions nestles a passage on the therapeutic value of nail varnish. Practical hints on how to get better (diet, read Hello!, helpful pieces of music) sit alongside striking quotations.
Part memoir – drawing on her own experiences, both adverse and encouraging, as a depressive and an alcoholic – and part guide or companion, this book brings Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy into the twenty-first century. Lewis unpacks her dark memories, plucks up the arrow of truth-telling and the shield of wit and re-embarks on a journey that nearly killed her first time round. She survives, again, and shows how others might, too.
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‘While many books about depression bring one down with their tales of dark mood states, and others bring one down with artificial and unconvincing messages of hope, Gwyneth Lewis's Sunbathing in the Rain is both witty and wise: a profound musing on the problem of depression that is deeply informed yet full of hope and cheer.’ Andrew Solomon, author of the award-winning THE NOONDAY DEMON
`Sunbathing in the Rain is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read about one person’s experience of depression.' Dorothy Rowe, author of BREAKING THE BONDS
‘I started reading the book on a rainy afternoon and read it right through without stopping to late evening. I was seized by its rhythm of discovery, its humour, courage and sharp-eyed insight. Gwyneth truly draws on literature, bringing to bear writers from everywhere and every time as part of present experience. She gives you confidence in poetry. And she is wonderfully down-to-earth in her advice.’
Dame Professor Gillian Beer, President of Clare Hall, Cambridge University
‘None of the famous universities Gwyneth Lewis attended set exams so merciless as depression did, or taught her such finally luminous wisdom. That’s why we get sent on that largest and most hideous course, and why life is so delicious if we live to graduate.This new book by Wales’ premier young poet is one of the very best of the many survivor testimonies appearing today.’ Les Murray
‘Felicitous, urbane, heartbreaking, the poems of Gwyneth Lewis form a universe whose planets use language for oxygen and are thus inhabitable’ Joseph BrodskyFrom the Author:
One of the problems with being seriously depressed is that there is hardly anything that you can do to make yourself feel better. People who urge you to take some exercise, go to see a cheerful film or, worse, to count your blessings, have no concept of the way in which depression turns you into a pile of miserable blancmange, incapable of making a cup of tea, let alone getting dressed.
During my last bout of depression (not my first), I looked for a book to help me get through its agony. It needed to have short passages because I couldn't concentrate for long. Anything 'medical' was out. I needed to know how to get from minute to minute without giving up. What I wanted were accounts of experience from the front line, along with suggestions of how to survive. I needed a human perspective, practical hints and, most important of all, reassurances that I could come through my hell intact.
Sunbathing in the Rain is my attempt to write the book for which I was looking while I was recovering. While I was ill, I found most books on depression, well …. depressing. Sunbathing draws on diaries which I kept (when I could write at all), quotes from my reading, funny stories I saw in the paper, anecdotes - anything that shed light on or gave me relief from feeling so awful. Sunbathing in the Rain is aimed primarily at those who are depressed at the moment and who are looking for something nourishing to read as they go through their terrors and recover. It's structured like a jigsaw puzzle and can be read as slowly or as quickly as you like. It's also aimed at those who aren't ill themselves but who are watching someone close to them struggling. Most of all, I needed a book which, without being facile, would give me hope that this horror would pass and that I might be able to survive and come out into the sunlight at the other side.
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Book Description Flamingo, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007120613