Title:Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See
Author: Juliann Garey
Publisher: Soho Press (December 26, 2012)
Rating: 5 stars
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to see is the fictional story of Greyson Todd, a Hollywood studio executive, whose manic creative genius came at a price. For 20 years, he hid his bipolar disorder from the working world. No one knew except for his wife.
In the 1960s bipolar disorder was even more discriminated against and feared than it is now. So after years of hiding from the world and subjecting his family to angry (sometimes violent) fits, he left his wife and child and went on a sort of Grand Tour where he finally let the bipolar disorder run his life.
When he comes back to the US after years abroad, he is committed to an institution. There he’s medicated and attends therapy. After some time, he starts to receive a visitor and there is a glimmer of hope for his future.
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See is told in short stories that span Greyson’s life time. These are memories that flash in his brain in the moments before he receives electroshock therapy.We see Greyson as a child dealing with his father’s mental illness, as a law student when he has his first episode, as an executive before things get really bad, as an executive when he is completely out of control, as a wanderer in Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda, and finally as a patient in a New York psychiatric institution.
Too Bright to Hear has a fairly simple plot and a story that certainly isn’t new to literature. Writers love to talk about mental deterioration, depression, and general insanity. It’s fascinating, and these people with mental health disorders see the world in such a beautiful way, a way that writers constantly strive to show.
Garey’s writing is hauntingly beautiful. She gives us an intimate look into the life of a severely troubled man (in first person POV), whose story seems more real than a memoir. In terms of writing alone, this novel is the best I’ve read all year (very close second: Which Brings Me to You). The story itself is really hard to read in places. Similar to Sharp, there are instances of self-harm and times when you just want to shake Greyson and be like “get it together!” But obviously that’s not how it works.
This isn’t an uplifting novel or a particularly happy one, but Too Bright to Hear will help you appreciate the brain of a mentally ill person, their struggle, and the resiliency of human relationships. I definitely cried in the end. Also, for all of you writers out there, this is a must read for the craft alone!!