When Books Make me go Dotty–case in point

I have just finished reading Your Voice In My Head, by Emma Forrest, and I am trying to decide whether to send raving fan mail, or raging hate mail to Lainey for having so highly recommended the book and piquing my interest.  So far, Lainey is five for five with book recommendations (I am also reading Girls Like Us, a triple biography of and feminist tribute to Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon and it is living up to the rec as well.)  It’s one of the reasons I still read her site daily.

Forrest, whose name I’d never filed away as important, is an extremely accomplished and award winning young writer, who has also had a series of high profile romances, including the one with Colin Farrell, about whom she writes in this book–never revealing his name, so it’s a bit less scandalous.  Mainly, though, the book is about her journey to mental health, the eponymous voice in her head being that of her treating psychiatrist.

It is a naked, tender, raw and revealing portrait of ill-health and the struggle to find a way to live out life when depression is your first nature.  Forrest tells her own story with a just eye toward the players in it, and with dry wit and heavy-with-the-wet-of-tears wisdom.  I’ll be thinking about the book for weeks, I’m sure.  And I’ll reread it down the road, but not anytime soon–I need to process it.

It is fairly consuming as you read it.  Forrest is charming and draws you in with her nakedness–who can resist a peep show?  Especially when it is a peep show into someone else’s soul?  Not me. 

Maybe I relate because I share that streak of emotional exhibitionism.  It is safer, as Andy Warhol taught me through acne, to expose your own weaknesses and invite a mutual scrutiny.  If you stand outside yourself with another onlooker and share the experience, your flaws become a sort of art installation and you can find a way to appreciate the least of yourself.

Maybe you don’t want the Pollock hanging in your living room, but if you look at it long enough and talk to enough people about it, you can start to see why someone else would.  Same thing with your fear of sharks, or the shape of your nostrils, or that weird thing about your toes.  When you take yourself out of the equation (and that’s what exhibitionism does for me) you can see why someone else might see you as a vital part of the formula.

We’re all art, really.  I might not want you in my living room (and vice versa), but if I tilt my head and squint, and can appreciate why you are considered priceless, and the love and work that’s gone into you.

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