I share one of Mrs Slater's problems, epilepsy. This is as fine a description of the confusion of proceeding through adolescence (when my own temporal lobe condition appeared) in a world that can't make sense of you, nor you of it. Have you, the person with epilepsy, lost your mind - or has the rest of the world? What's really happening - or is it happening at all? This, I'm sure, is the reason for the subtitle, 'a memoir with lies.' At times of epileptic onset, there is no fixed, certain truth. There's only what seems to be happening, whatever anyone else thinks. Life, and other people, can be both consciously and unconsciously brutal. There's the widespread notion that epilepsy is somehow all in the mind, not a real problem, so that we can think our way out of it. Not so, by the time it begins to hit, it's already too late. The seizure must run its course. Or even, and I've heard this said to me too: that we must 'pull ourselves together', one of the most brutal phrases in the language. We're not attention-seeking, as is still commonly thought, but sometimes, unpredictably, racked with an incomprehensible condition in an uncomprehending world, one that can be embarrassed or even contemptuous rather than helpful. And who should 'pull himself together'? Anyone who isn't prepared to try to understand what's happening in epilepsy. Principal in this work are the author's parents at least as described. They're a self-absorbed mother and an ineffectual father, who try to help - but not hard enough.
Slaters latest offering is a classic! Written in a unique style different to her previous work. SPASM leaves you never really knowing what to believe, but wanting to understand. It taps into that the human desire to explain things and make things all straight, tidy and understood. Except, thats exactly what you will never do. It intrigues you and pulls you into an elusive world of illness, lies and harsh truths. A MUST for anyone interested in how the human mind works. Brilliant!
very occasionally you stumble upon a book that is exceptional and that is rare in a world of over infated egos and one-a-penny memoirs. using epilepsy as a metaphor around which to tell her story it is different and instantly thought provoking. for an extremely chaotic story it is very readable, it's also very hard to explain. so i won't try, what i will say is that i would recommend it to anyone. anyone who has ever experienced their own lives blurring between fact and fiction, for anyone who has stated something as a fact only to be thinking at the same time that they are lying, for anyone who has spent years in instituational systems, for anyone that has ever wished that they could start over, then maybe this is the book that will help you make sense of the chaos that is our personal narrative.