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Book Talk

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(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), whose book was named one of three finalists for the $50,000 George Washington Book prize. The prize goes to the top book on early American history. The winner will be announced in May. BOOK SALES ... Friends of the Palo Alto Library will hold its monthly book sale on Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, March 13, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. In Menlo Park, books may be purchased online, with a percentage going towards the Menlo Park Library. Information: www.amazon.com/shops/menloparkfriends.

memoir of a bipolar psychologist. “Half in Love� is Sexton’s personal journal to hell and back. In her own words, Sexton writes: Depression is a country with no borders. In my mid-thirties, just after my children were born, I found myself to be a citizen there. But well beyond the post-partum depression was major mental illness. At age 45, the same age her mother was when she killed herself, she found herself “drawn into my own vortex of depression, desperate for relief from the intense interior pain that obliterated nearly every waking moment. I tried, once, twice, three times, to kill myself — even though I was a daughter, a sister, a wife and, most importantly, a mother.� She was ultimately diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder with rapid mood swings, from prolonged depression to painful agitation. This led her to attempt suicide multiple times and to take up cutting (self-mutilation) as a way to suppress the constant pain: Was this simply a desire to escape pain, or a biological imperative, or a role model I could not resist, or simply the voice in my head goading me on? Perhaps every one of them. I picked up the knife. I did not ask why. I wondered only at what angle to draw the blade. Interspersed with descriptions of her stays in psychiatric wards, Sexton shares intimate details of her marriage and its disintegration, as well as her relationship with her sons, her father and her sister. The greatest loss for her throughout these periods of deep depression

AUTHOR AUTHOR ... More upcoming authors at Kepler’s, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, include Daniel Seddiqui, “50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America� (March 20, 2 p.m.); Anthony Horowitz, “Scorpia Rising� (March 25, 7 p.m.); Joshua Foer, “Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything� (March 28, 7 p.m.); Daniel A. Olivas, “The Book of Want: A Novel� (March 30, 7 p.m.); Kate Atkinson, “Started Early, Took My Dog� (April 1, 7 p.m.); Charles Baxter, “Gryphon: New and Selected Stories� (April 4, 7 p.m.); Joyce Carol Oates, “A Widow’s Story� (April 6, 7 p.m.); and Billy Collins, “Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems� (April 7, 7 p.m.). Information: www.keplers.com.

MORE TALKS ... Upcoming authors at Books Inc. at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto include Ted Atlas and Mark Purdy, “Candlestick Park,� chronicling the home of the Giants in pictures (March 24, 7 p.m.); and at 301 Castro St., Mountain View: Cara Black, “Murder in Passy: An Aimee Leduc Investigation Set in Paris� and Libby Hellman, “Set the Night on Fire� (March 15, 7 p.m.). Information: www.booksinc. net. And, at Stanford Bookstore, 519 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, is Elena Mauli Shapiro, “13, Rue Therese� (March 10, 6 p.m.). Information: stanfordbookstore.com. N

were these core relationships. Toward the end of the book, she writes of years of seeking the right combination of therapy and drugs to stabilize her moods, lessen her anxiety — and still allow her to function as a writer. For years, she barely crawled out of bed, or remembered to eat. Even her body betrayed her, with the weight gain associated with psychoactive drugs. When she finally recovered enough to return to life — which meant writing, mothering, meeting and marrying a new love — she attempted to repair old relationships. The most important to her are with her children, who she fears will never trust her again. She also approached her sister Joy, who grew up in the same dysfunctional family but was never prone to depression. During the years of depression, especially following the suicide attempts, Joy had completely withdrawn from contact. When Linda attempted a rapprochement, she could not get a commitment of support from Joy. “She couldn’t separate my drop into mental illness from our mother’s: the way that our mother had held the whole family dancing on marionette wires. My breakdown did not seem to her to be involuntary or ignited by severe emotional pain. “If I succumbed to a disease like breast cancer, one that was ‘life threatening,’ then she would be out to help me ‘in a heartbeat.’ Silently, I wondered why she didn’t perceive suicide as a life-threatening disease.� Linda Sexton wrote this memoir

partly as a way to complete her healing. While still in the hospital, she wrote a letter to the police who had helped save her from a suicide attempt, trying to explain the “tunnel of depression and the drive toward suicide at the end of the tunnel.� The police chief wrote back, saying she had helped him “see that terrible aspect of the act. He would never again look upon it as he had before.� Sexton isn’t excusing herself for her desperate acts. Rather, she is educating her readers about the depths that depression can take a person — and offering hope that like herself, others can recover and live again. N Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be e-mailed at cblitzer@paweekly. com.

Items for Book Talk may be sent to Associate Editor Carol Blitzer, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 93202 or e-mailed to cblitzer@paweekly.com by the last Friday of the month.

*"Starting to Play" meets for one hour each Monday night for nine weeks beginning March 28th. Students are encouraged to bring their own guitar, but both nylon-string and steel-string loaner guitars are available.

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Palo Alto Weekly 03.11.2011 - section 1  
Palo Alto Weekly 03.11.2011 - section 1  

Section 1 of the March 11, 2011 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly