I just finished reading "Too Bright to Hear, Too Loud To See," a first novel by Juliann Garey. It is a harrowing read about a brilliant man with bipolar disorder, a Hollywood mogul-type named Greyson Todd, who hid behind his illness for 20 years before totally going off the rails. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. It's a very unique way to write a book, but it totally works.
I had never heard of Juliann Garey before, but when I was reading the book, which is incredibly suspenseful and often raunchy enough to make me groan with disgust, I knew Garey had to have had personal knowledge of bipolar disease. I waited to Google until I had finished the book; I didn't want that knowledge to affect the reading experience. I read a LOT for three nights as I was working during the day. I was born in Los Angeles and she wrote those parts so purely that I actually thought I was there. The same with New York City. In the 10 years Greyson Todd roams the world to places I've never been, I sure as heck felt I'd been there now, but not as a regular tourist, but in the body of a tortured man. By the way, I'm always impressed with writers who can successfully write in the opposite gender. She pulled it off sublimely.
The first article I hit was Salon.com's "Going Off Meds to Write my Book," and yes, Juliann Garey has a very intimate knowledge of the disease. She has lived with it all her life and there is a strong genetic component.
The next article I hit was Los Angeles Magazine's "Four Questions of Juliann Garey."
All I can say is that I rate this book very highly, uncomfortable as it often was to read. Garey is an excellent writer and I strongly identified with all his characters.
Read it if you have the courage to frequently be uncomfortable. It probably helps that I've had close friends with bipolar disease and friends whose now adult children have it. Thank God science has brought powerful medications and treatments to those who suffer, but--the meds apparently have dulled even Garey.
If you do read this book, I'd love to have your feedback. By the way, I read about this book in The Los Angeles Times and waited only a few weeks on the list at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library District to check it out. I always love to give my local libraries credit.