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As the Public Mourns Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, These Books May Shed Some Light on Their Experiences

As the Public Mourns Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, These Books May Shed Some Light on Their Experiences


THE NOONDAY DEMON
An Atlas of Depression
By Andrew Solomon
571 pp. Scribner. (2001)

In this mixture of “the confessional and the analytical,” Solomon draws from his personal experience to write about sociological theories of depression, antipsychotic drugs and the history of the illness. Many of Solomon’s personal accounts are harrowing and disturbing. “I have often wanted to kill myself for a month,” he writes of his experiences with deep depression. Solomon also devotes some pages to writing of his mother’s fight with ovarian cancer and her decision to overdose on her medication in the presence of family members. Joyce Carol Oates, who wrote the original review, said this anecdote is “particularly moving, and might have been developed into a book-length memoir.” She also wrote that the book’s “generous assortment of voices, from the pathological to the philosophical, makes for rich, variegated reading.”

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ALL MY PUNY SORROWS
By Miriam Toews
330 pp. McSweeney’s. (2014)

This novel is about two sisters, Elfrieda and Yolandi, who, though very close, are also very different. Elf is a talented and successful classical pianist who is married and lives glamorously. Yoli, on the other hand, is broke and soon-to-be divorced; she has an unremarkable career as a young adult author. When Elf attempts suicide, Yoli travels to Toronto, to the psychiatric unit where Elf is admitted. In addition to the capturing the tedium of being in a hospital, Toews also includes flashbacks to the sisters’ childhood growing up in a rural Mennonite community. Our reviewer called this novel “irresistible,” the flashbacks “vivid and energetic” and the dialogue “realistic and funny.”



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