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Love and Madness,
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This review is from: Malcolm is a little unwell (Kindle Edition)
This book grips you from the opening line. It sets off at a ferocious pace that never lets up - though there are moments of heartstopping stillness in it too, in which Malcolm and what he calls his "little family" stare into the terrors of what has descended on them. Malcolm Brabant writes with the same warm, engaging style that makes him such a talented and distinctive reporter - clear, concise, liquid prose that seems effortlessly charming but is in fact highly disciplined and taught, with scarcely a wasted word. Full disclosure - Malcolm is a friend of mine. He claims not to have been a very brave war reporter. But I was always glad to see him when I turned up in difficult and dangerous places. Everyone who knows him knows him as a voracious lover of life - an uproariously funny, irreverent, rebellious maverick of a reporter. I knew him best in Sarajevo: that war broke his heart and he produced some of the most moving and compelling journalism there. The same qualities and character traits run through this book: it is an open and honest account of a descent into madness, as Malcolm gradually loses his grip on reality and plunges into his own desperate insanity.
But this is also a book about love. Brabant has written a love story. The book is a love letter to his wife Trine and his son Lukas. Trine's personal strength and her devotion to their marriage, and to him, shine from every page. She is the outstanding personality in this story and the image of her turning up again and again and waving cheerfully at her deranged, unrecognisable husband through the reinforced-glass window of a locked psychiatric ward stays with you - for you know the pain she was in, and you think that if that can happen to a couple like them then it could happen to any one of us.
The old Malcolm Brabant saw comic potential in almost everything. He is always the biggest personality in the room. He has a gift for finding humour in the bleakness. He even finds it here. In the midst of the despair he slaps you round the head with a darkly comic observation on his own plight. The Brabant that wrote this book is the old Brabant, back and on sparkling form, in a subdued, quieter, more reflective but no less exuberant version of himself.
And he is, despite himself, brave. This is a brave book about the torment and stigma of mental illness - and about the redeeming power of love and loyalty and kindness and honesty. It is a wonderful, frightening, haunting book. But it's also, in the end, inspiring.