Heavy Light is the story of a breakdown: a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing.
After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.
From hypomania in the Alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we can be healed – or not – by treatment. A story of the wonder and intensity of the manic experience, as well as its peril and strangeness, it is shot through with the love, kindness, humour and care of those who deal with someone who becomes dangerously ill.
Partly a tribute to those who looked after Horatio, from family and friends to strangers and professionals, and partly an investigation into how we understand and treat acute crises of mental health, Heavy Light’s beauty, power and compassion illuminate a fundamental part of human experience. It asks urgent questions about mental health that affect each and every one of us.
A ‘Book to look out for in 2021’ in the Observer
‘An extraordinary book: deeply moving, darkly funny and hugely powerful’ Robert Macfarlane
‘One of the most brilliant travel writers of our day takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own’ Reverend Richard Coles
‘A record of the bravest, most perilous, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make. It is stricken, moving, urgent, crucial . . . A luminous, beautiful achievement’ Niall Griffiths
Clare takes us inside his head in this profound, compelling account of acute mental illness, which is also a love letter to those who cared for and supported him. And as he recovers, Heavy Light turns into a heartfelt quest to understand what happened to him, and how we can heal those similarly afflicted. This book must have been terribly hard to write, but it feels so important he's done so -- Caroline Sanderson * Bookseller (Book of the Month) * A fearless dive into the darks of the mind -- fiercely moving, ruthlessly honest and written with an exquisite care. It is a call for understanding that we all need to hear -- Tom Bullough Heavy Light is a record of the bravest, most perilous, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make. It is stricken, moving, urgent, crucial, and deserves to -- and, I don't doubt, will -- stand alongside such classics of the genre as Solomon's Noonday Demon, Leader's What is Madness?, even Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. A luminous, beautiful achievement -- Niall Griffiths Compelling, beautifully-written and utterly devastating. A balm in itself -- Katie Law * Evening Standard * I tore through Heavy Light, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it -- Amy Liptrot Horatio Clare, whose adventures in the Black Mountains, the Gulf of Bothnia, the Ethiopian Highlands, and the point in the Pacific Ocean furthest on earth from land, have made him one of the most brilliant travel writers of our day, takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own -- Reverend Richard Coles Horatio Clare is a true adventurer and an English original - as vital as Chatwin, as endearing as Withnail. Even when writing about his own breakdown he does so with a poet's ear, brave journalistic insight and, crucially, no shortage of humour. Heavy Light is a white-knuckle descent whose transcendent theme of mania is timeless and universal -- Benjamin Myers A brave, lit-up account of going mad and getting better, that forensically tracks the footprints of both journeys towards a settlement with the self -- Jeanette Winterson An extraordinary book: deeply moving, darkly funny and hugely powerful. It travels hard country: mania, paranoia, the huge collateral damage of madness. It shows its readers, unforgettably, what it is like to see the world on a "skewed plane". But the star by which it steers is, in the end and above all, love. This book confirms that Horatio Clare is among the most brilliant and compassionate writers of non-fiction I know -- Robert Macfarlane
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