[REVIEW] This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression by Daphne Merkin

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I really enjoy reading books that deal with real issues (in this case: depression). I love getting a new perspective on this subject other than my own. Depression is quite common among people and it’s something that is hard to deal with and hard for others to understand so it’s really important for people to write books about depression and share their stories with the world.

At the beginning of her memoir Merkin writes: ‘’Although past two decades have seen a significant number of books that have taken up the issues of depression, both unipolar and bipolar, including Styron’s Darkness Visible, Susanna Kaysens’s Girl, Interrupted, and Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, it seems to me that these characterizations tend to bracket the episodes of breakdown or incapacitating depression within unimpeachable demonstrations of the writer’s otherwise hyperfunctioning existence.  (It is worth noting in this regard that Darkness Visible begins when Styron is on his way to Paris to receive a prestigious award and that the book’s subtitle is ‘a memoir of madness.’)’’  – by this Merkin capitalises that she wanted to write a book which shows a completely different perspective into the ‘scene’ casting a light onto the world of depression which occurs in most people with it’s cause not necessarily being genetic (but a source of trauma) and doesn’t mysticise this illness.

It’s taken the author more than a decade to write this memoir and you can see the reasons why by reading it. Daphne Merkin gives us a vivid insight into her life – from her childhood, her strange mother, to her twenties, forties and to where she is now by the end of the book. This isn’t just a  memoir per se, while it features stories of her life and her dive struggle with depression Merkin analyses other things such as views on depression from the psychological perspective whilst adding her agreement/disagreement,  she touches famous poets and  writers (e.g. Virginia Woolf) lives and their severe depressions.  This is a completely honest memoir where the author isn’t shy to share her life story – even the embarrassing  bits but also when she gets to her lowest points in her life long battle with depression. It gets hard reading Merkin’s journey from one psychologist’s office to the other, her hospitalisations and the crazy amount of medication she has to take in order to function in this world.  I wondered what the meaning of the cover of the book was but then I read the book and found it suiting. I have to say that Daphne Merkin is really brave for sharing her painfully honest story with the reader and I’m sure that this book will be some sort of solace and inspiration to sufferers of the same illness.

Truly a wonderful, honest and real account of depression which everyone who suffers from or is interested in should read.

My rating: ratingstarratingstarratingstarratingstar

Add ‘This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression‘ to your TBR:  goodreads-logo-square



Daphne Merkin is an American literary critic, essayist and novelist. Merkin is a graduate of Barnard College. She also attended Columbia University’s graduate program in English literature. She began her career as a book critic for Commentary magazine, The New Republic, and The New Leader, where she wrote a book column and later, a movie column.  In 1986, she became an editor with the publishing house of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. In 1997, after Tina Brown became editor of The New Yorker, Merkin became a film critic for the magazine. She also wrote extensively on books and became known for her frank forays into autobiography; her personal essays dealt with subjects ranging from her battle with depression, to her predilection for spanking, to the unacknowledged complexities of growing up rich on Park Avenue…,more

Find her on:  Twitter

5 thoughts on “[REVIEW] This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression by Daphne Merkin

  1. Pingback: Links I Loved This Week – 03/13/2017 – Novels And Nonfiction

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