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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir (edition 2012)

by Ellen Forney

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Member:ghostwire
Title:Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir
Authors:Ellen Forney
Info:Gotham (2012), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:bipolar, mood disorders, graphic novel, memoir

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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney

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A powerfully moving example of autobiographix. Admittedly, I liked the middle and end of the book more than the beginning, but her admissions of her behavior during those early unmedicated "up" episodes are powerful. Recommended. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
So well done-the art, the writing, the honesty-it all captures so much of what being bi-polar I is like. As a diagnosed bi-polar II, I relate to so much of her experiences and thoughts and worries. An incredibly reassuring book to read as well as informative for any friends and family of those with the disease. She's also incredibly funny. ( )
1 vote Clare.Davitt | Aug 5, 2013 |
Read this extended title. It is a perfect description of this little book. It is all you need to know about it. ( )
  debnance | May 26, 2013 |
http://andalittlewine.blogspot.com/2013/05/review-marbles-by-ellen-forney.html

All of us who have suffered from, or who have loved someone who suffered from a mood disorder can related to Ellen Forney's struggle to cope with bipolar disorder. With brutal honesty and just as much humor and grace, Marbles documents Forney's entire two steps forward, one step back history.

Forney's pages have a rich variety. When framed, her pages are regularly three row, usually two column but occasionally mixing in a page-width row. When unframed, her images and words spill over each other. The more manic the scene, the more disordered the framing. My favorite image comes at the end of the third chapter- a sideview of a black drain, with an image sliding down one side. Is it water, or is it a three part liquified stick figure melting away? On one side of the drain is a long list of the negative side effects and risks of lithium use. On the other side is the sober reality that lithium wasn't the best drug for her at that moment. As a story teller, Forney balances her text-heavy tale with great, often brilliant black and white art.

But her story telling so long on expository and rabbit holes that the entire book can feel a little like watching a flashback. We're rarely there with Forney living a scene; instead, the scene has happened, and much like Forney's psychiatrist, all we can do is let her recount the tale.

Where Alison Bechdel has built a career on illuminating the supporting cast (first in Dykes to Watch Out For, and then in her two pieces of memoir, Fun Home and Are You My Mother?), Forney keeps the focus squarely on herself. Her few friends offer little more than cameos, accessories to the action Forney pursues rather than characters inhabiting a shared space in her world. And Forney's mother! She helped cover Forney's rent and other expenses, provides constant emotional support, and carries some level of guilt since mood disorders run through Forney's mother's family. That's the character I want to hear more from.

What is most disappointing about this sprawling novel is its conclusion. Forney keeps trying to refocus her struggle with bipolar disorder as a struggle not to allow the illness to sap her creativity. She frequently makes reference to famous "crazy" artists: Plath, Van Gogh, O'Keefe and more.

But the real story, the story that goes largely untold her, is how a pot addict kicked her habit. After years of smoking daily or nearly every day, Forney finally confesses the extent of her addiction to her psychiatrist. I'm not clear that she sees the possibility that her "self-medication" might have actually prolonged her struggle to find a balance of life and meds that (once she found it) allows her to live a more productive life. On page 194, at what is otherwise the climax of Forney's struggle, the story literally stops beside a sketch of a heeled, knee-high boot (she's putting her foot down) to say that people can smoke pot "wisely & beneficially." ( )
  jscape2000 | May 13, 2013 |
A fantastic read about one woman's journey through the literal ups and downs of being bi-polar. ( )
  mawls | Apr 4, 2013 |
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Dedicated with immense gratitude to my mother & to my psychiatrist
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Every time Owen traced a new line with his needle, I could SEE the sensation--a bright white light, an electrical charge, up and to the right.
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Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic but terrified that medications would cause her to lose her creativity and livelihood, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability without losing herself or her passion. Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the "crazy artist," Ellen found inspiration from the lives and work of other artist and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath.… (more)

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