With sincere apologies to David Mitchell, I have been reading myself through the crest and early weeks of the fall of a mental health crisis with his novel The Ten Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. Probably not fair to him or me. I am not a speed reader but I can generally manage 4-5 books a month. I embarked on this voyage with the Guardian Reading Group in early June and finally closed the last page today.
I know that reviews were mixed when this book was published in 2010 but I would not suggest this as a companion for a manic episode. It was not bad or entirely uninteresting (though I confess I preferred the graphic turn of the 18th century medically graphic scenes, shades of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin novels where you have to wonder how anyone survived the surgical interventions, let alone the nautical warfare). Although the era and setting of this historical – and for Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame – remarkably straighforward tale I think it could have been much more coherent and tightly paced.
I think that I stuck to this book more as a testament to myself that I could pull myself through this period of turmoil which has left me depressed, angry and confused as I sit on sick leave and wonder if my career is in shambles. I was afraid that if I stopped reading, even with the idea that I might return at a later date, I would be giving in to the mass of tangled emotions that my breakdown has left me struggling with. Some level of normalcy has to be maintained and, at this time it has meant reading.
So where now? Something shorter, something magical I should think.
2 thoughts on “Stubbornly reading through a breakdown”
I’m sorry to hear you had such a stressful time as you were reading this book. I hope you are better now. having seen your comment on my blog I thought I’d pop over to see who you were – and noticed this review of a book I’ve also read and reviewed. I did enjoy it quite a lot – partly because I’ve been to Dejima in Nagasaki and partly because it’s such a larger than life book – but had some reservations. He packs, perhaps, a little too much in and THOSE characters! How many there were to keep track of.
Thanks for the good words. I had envisioned more of a book blog when I started this but my breakdown has turned more of my attention to mental health. But I am off on sick leave and have more time to read (and add to my TBR pile). Unfortunately my decision to read this book with the Guardian Reading Group coincided with the height of a manic episode so I really had to pull myself through.
Thanks for stopping by and if you are interested I review a fantastic book from Bosnia (Seven Terrors) which takes a Kafkaesque sideways look at the fall out from the war years.