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Disgustingly bad. Could not get invloved in feministic throwdowns with a depressed ne'er-do-well that most people hate.Very bad book.
This book is absolutly mezmorising. I've never read a book like it; the typography is outstanding. Really fantastic book and if you haven't read it, you should. I had never heard of Janice Galloway before this book and it surprised me when I read this that I hadn't. She is a fantastic author and this book certainly jumps out as a masterpiece. Her characterisation is brilliant and the detail she writes into this book is stunning, it's a book you can really get emotionally involved in. The main character, with the ironic name, is one that perfectly dipicted as someone falling completly apart. It immediatly brings to mind Sylvia Plath's "the belljar" the books intwining in their picture of a women who's life is falling in around them. I emplore anybody who is a fan of Plath or any respected author to read this book - I assure you it will please.
I am always on the lookout for books by Scottish writers, which was why I made the decision to read this book. This is the first and only book I have read by Janice Galloway but I hope to read more. I often read a book twice if I feel I've missed something first time round, I've now read this book twice but feel that even if I read it a hundred times I'll learn something new every time. The book doesn't really have a plot as such; its in present tense first person and charts the breakdown of the main character, ironically named Joy. Joy is a drama teacher who has suffered a major upset in her life that has triggered off a severe bout of depression which spirals deeper and deeper into a breakdown throughout the novel. The style is unusual but suits the story. The first person present tense gives a sense of urgency and confusion and is fragmented and broken, just like Joy's mind. Some fleeting sentences appear in the margins, only part completed, which also emphasise Joy's confusion and the fact that no matter how much she tells us, the reader, she can never fully explain everything inside her head. We can only see what is on the surface. It isn't a light read, lets make that clear. But there is some humour in it; Joy has a dry wit that shines through and her take on a lot of the things that happen to her is quite amusing. Is it that she can see the funny side despite her misery, or is she using humour as a tool to make light of it? I think its more the former than than the latter. Joy is likeable to a point but she is frustrating at times. She tells us bits about her background in flashbacks, mainly about events leading up to her depression, which helped me understand her a bit better. I am lucky to never have suffered from mental illness and I hope I never do! Just by reading this, I could feel Joy's confusion and the feeling she was trapped inside her own head. What I loved was the fact that she would rationalize some of the odd things that she was doing, so much so that they appeared to make sense. The author really manages to get inside Joy's head and by doing so ensures we can get in it too. Overall it demonstrates the fragility of the human mind and how we are all so close to that border. The author treats the subject matter with sensitivity yet with a humour that makes Joy's story seem all the more poignant. This story isn't for everyone and I guarantee if you read it you will either love it or hate it! Its experimental in style and is slow moving yet gripping. If you like fast paced action packed novels then this is definitely not for you. I think it might be a useful read for anyone suffering depression or a breakdown, or for anyone who has a family member/friend with the condition.
The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway is a dark, sometimes confusing novel about a young woman (we find out near the end that her name is Joy) struggling with a mix of psychological issues after the death of her boyfriend. Galloway is a Scottish writer, and being scottish myself I could understand the dialogue and the locations. Some of the speech is very broad, and the layout of the book has some words added off the normal margins of the page and many unfinished thoughts. I do like it when books look different and have a more creative feel to them, which this book does. It is almost a poetry of thoughts and neuroses. The story is told from the heroine's perspective, almost like a journal, but Joy does not seem to have it in her to keep a diary at the moment. Instead the reader feels that we are inside Joy's mind. A secret, invisible confidante. There are aspects of her character and her habits that, in this day and age, we are all unfortunately familiar with. This book tackles many themes along the way including eating disorders, grief and bereavement, paranoia and low self-esteem. If you are looking for a light read, this is not the book for you. However the work is peppered with humour, some of it dark, some of it seemingly unintentional and all the better for it. Joy really wants to get better, she really wants to be back in control. There are more issues to wade through than she realises, she has had a hard life and difficult childhood. The final thought we are left with is to ponder the power of genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness of self, of others, and even forgiveness for life itself, with its strange way of teaching us things.
Undoubtedly the 'best' work I have ever read - this book is profound in it's exploration of the process of 'cracking up'. Galloway's easy writing style almost forces the reader to become the main character; there is no way you could read this book and keep a distance from it. It's not about story lines or plots ( although there is a thin one spread throughout), it's simply about the life of 27 year old Joy Stone; drama teacher, alcoholic, bereaved, depressive. And don't get me wrong, this has nothing to do with labels either. Completely unassuming, the book tells it 'as it is'. Miniscual details and references threaded into the chapters make it all the more real, all the more difficult to get away from. Dealing with themes of depression and bereavement, it's not melodramatic either, just tragicallly realistic and sharply witty at times too. When I read this book I could not get over the sensation that I was reading a dialogue of my mind, bar all the differences between 'Joy's' life and mine, it was as if I was reading about myself, told by myself - except I obviously was not that person. I wish to write this opinion as a credit to the book - although I know nothing I could write could ever fully do it justice. Joy's unconscious thougths play a really interesting part in the development of her character, and Galloway has used a technique of placing small snippets of text outwith the boundaries of the usual paragraphs, so that sometimes it is not possible to read all of it. This is an innovative and effective way of physically representing mental thought on paper - you catch sight of it out of the blue, but can't always understand or access all of it... The complete honesty of the writing leaves me thinking that the book must be partly autobiographical. Galloway expresses exactly what she wants to say, in a way that could not have been done as convincingy if it were pure sp ecualtion. (She even picks up on the fact that many nurses in psychiatric hospitals in Scotland are called 'Moira' and that psychiatrists are not as clever as you would expect). She has a knack of taking every day fleeting experiences, that most of us forget about as soon as they are passed, and putting them into words which we all recognise, but would never think to mention ourselves. It is these shared idiosyncrasies which i find makes her work so appealing. After first reading "The Trick..." (albeit around 4 times), I searched out some of Galloway?s other works; mainly collections of short stories, and wasn't dissapointed. I can recommend 'Blood' as a good way to get familiar with her writing.
Janice Galloway’s book, “The Trick is to Keep Breathing”, breaks new ground, in that it is a revelation of what it can be like to be a woman in the modern world. Janice Galloway approaches the delicate subject of mental health with a scalpel and a magnifying glass. She strips away the layers of misconceptions about women and their neurosis in a way which is both shocking and revealing. Shocking because, unlike so many other of her contemporaries, Janice Galloway presents the facts in an uncompromising and vivid fashion, without the veneer of respectability, simply and truthfully. Joy, the solo character of the book is nearer “the edge” than anyone, man or woman, should have to go. Joy is a drama teacher who experiences an identity crisis as a woman, an employee and a Scottish citizen. Joy is forced to face herself. As Janice Galloway herself explains, “Seeing things very clearly is a very painful experience . . ." Anyone who has experienced the trauma which life’s little arbitrary actualities can bestow on we humans will understand the finer details in this little gem of a book. What do women think? What do women know? If you consider yourself to be knowledgeable on the subject of “women” - read this book If you consider yourself lucky to be “a woman” - read this book Even if you are the world’s biggest misogynist - read this book You’ll never forget you did You’ll never regret you did GG
Joy Stone, drama teacher in the West of Scotland,comes to terms with the deep psychological problems caused by the loss of her lover.