Monday, March 19, 2012

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen


Title: Girl, Interrupted
Author: Susanna Kaysen
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1993
Read in: English
Where'd I get this copy: Library 
Girl, Interrupted on Goodreads.

Teaser (from Goodreads):

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele -- Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles -- as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.


Um, okay. Let me be honest with you. I really don't have much to say about Girl, Interrupted. The book was definitely good, great even, but I don't have anything to add.

But, well, when I first heard those two words (Girl, Interrupted), I thought it was some awful chick flick movie. No, seriously. Can we just all agree that I was ever so wrong.

I kind of have a thing for mental asylums whether they look like this:

or this,

"Abandoned Mental Asylum - Brisbane" by Damon Lancaster on RedBubble 

It really doesn't matter. It's either a very fascinating story about the mind and where the line between hysteric and lunatic goes, or it's a spine-chilling tale of everything in between zombies, experimental torture, brutal killings and just plain horror.

But yeah. It was straightforward, simple, everyday-ish -- so much even, that it would've been boring to read if about any other person! The only thing Susanna did was describing what she did yesterday, what she's doing today, and what's happening tomorrow. That's it! It's not a chronological biography that starts when you're born and ends with your death and/or legacy, it's just a slice of a mentally ill person's life. And is she really that mad? I remember a particular chapter (The Prelude to Ice Cream) about going to get ice cream. In an ice cream parlour. Outside the hospital. 
Outside the hospital. One of the two times a year they'd come outside. So it was kind of a big deal, yet all the girls did was make the nurses and customers nervous by overacting their illnesses. They were just having fun, they were used to living inside their hospital and being hid away from the rest of the world. They accepted it and made fun of it.

So let's just say, that even if you hate every single genre and theme this book might be, you'll still want to read it purely because of how Susanna writes. It's a gorgeous language she uses, so please do yourself the favour! 

Bottom line: at some point in my life I'm going to buy this book because it is somewhat perfect. Also I will get around to watching the movie soon... 8/10!

Frederikke, out.

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