I’m probably somewhat biased in favor of Post Mortem Press for an obvious reason or so, but that doesn’t change the fact that the books and stories I’ve seen being offered by this growing small press have been impressive. Over the past six weeks, they’ve added Big Names to their roster of published authors and they show no signs of stopping.
This is great news for any author lucky enough to catch their attention. I’ve been snagging books as I have the chance, though I can’t say that I’ve been a timely reader of them. The one that I chose to start with was one that caught my eye for personal reasons. Completely in Blue: Dispatches from the Edge of Insanity is one man’s tale of his descent into drug-induced madness and how everything fell apart and kept falling apart for a long time.
A topic like mental illness is very easy to stigmatize, to dramatize and to destroy by trying to lecture the reader about what to avoid, what someone suffering a similar experience should do, or to bog it down so heavily in medical jargon that the layman is left baffled looking at the page. Mental illness is also something that’s easy to demonize and wield like a sledgehammer to scare people.
Chris Curry does none of this. He humanizes his experience and explains even the ugly, dark parts of what he remembers without over-embellishing to create sympathy or drama. The drama emerges naturally from knowing this really happened to someone, and the sympathy arises just seeing the humanity Curry breathes into every word.
I was skeptical when I got this book because I have had personal experiences with the mania and depressions he mentioned, though I wasn’t the one afflicted. It’s hard to hear/read/see negative or hyperbolic portrayals of illnesses like these and I have eschewed a wildly popular public figure for this reason. Mental illnesses that involve mania, hypomania and depression are devastating, not only to the person suffering, but to those around them that want to help, yet find their hands tied. No one can truly understand what these episodes are like, from the irrational euphoria of mania, the Jekyll/Hyde hypomanic moods or by the depths of suicidal/paralytic deep depressions. Yet, Curry manages to convey as much as can be to those who’ve never witnessed it. Every scene Curry writes rings horrifically true, but lacks melodrama. He simply tells it like it is with admirable honesty and clarity. His story is engaging, so much so that even with other responsibilities looming, I read it in about a day. I had no desire to put it down once I started, because I wanted to know what happened. Chris Curry is very lucky to have found help that met his needs exactly, and to have gotten it before it’s too late. That he not only shares his story, but has pursued helping others in similar situations says much about him as a person. The one thing I haven’t had an opportunity to research yet is his music, but if it is as good as his writing, I’m sure I’ll be adding it to my collection as well.
I’m proud to share shelf space with him in the Post Mortem Library, and hope that some day I’ll be able to meet him.
Medium: e-book, Kindle format
Other: paperback from Amazon.com
Overall rating: 5 stars
Potential re-read?: Yes. I have a feeling that I’ll get even more out of a second reading.
Dead tree worthy?: Yes, if only to have a copy to hand to others so I can say “You need to read this.”