Grief, Loss, Death & Dying
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Brief History of DeathA Commonsense Book of DeathA Message from JakieAfter SuicideAfter You'd GoneAfterwardsAliveAll Alone in the UniverseAll Rivers Flow to the SeaAll Seasons PassAnd a Time to DieAt the End of WordsBeing with DyingBequest and BetrayalBereftBeyond GoodbyeBeyond the Good DeathBodies in Motion and at RestCatalystComfortConfessions of a Grieving ChristianContemplative AgingCoping With TraumaCrispinDarwin's WormsDeathDeath and CompassionDeath BenefitsDeath in the ClassroomDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDeath of a ParentDeath's DoorDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDriving My FatherDying in the Twenty-First CenturyElegy for IrisErasing DeathEthical WillsEvenings at FiveFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFatal AttachmentsFortress of My YouthGhost at the WindowGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGood GriefGoodbye RuneGraceful ExitsGrave MattersGrieving for ChildrenHealing ConversationsHello from Heaven!History of SuicideHonoring GriefHonoring the Dead and Facing DeathHow We GrieveI Remain in DarknessI Wasn't Ready to Say GoodbyeIn the Wake of SuicideIt Takes a Worried ManLayoverLearning to FallLiberating LossesLife after LossLiving and Dying WellLosing Mum and PupLossLost in the ForestLove Is a Mix TapeLove That DogMaking Sense of SuicideMars and Venus - Starting Over.Michael Rosen's Sad BookMortal DilemmasNight Falls FastNobody's Child AnymoreOlive's OceanOn Life After DeathOne Last Hug Before I GoOne More WednesdayParting CompanyPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthR.I.P.Reason's GriefRemembering GeorgySaying It Out LoudSeeing the CrabShooterSome Thing BlackSpeak to MeStandbyStayStill HereSuicidal ThoughtsSurviving HitlerThe Art of LosingThe AwakeningThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Cambridge Companion to Life and DeathThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Color of AbsenceThe Dead Fathers ClubThe Death of a ChildThe DisappearanceThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Forgotten MournersThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer's Disease and Related DisordersThe Lovely BonesThe Measure of Our DaysThe Mercy PapersThe MiracleThe Modern Art of DyingThe Other Side of SadnessThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of DeathThe ScarThe TravelersThe Trick Is to Keep BreathingThe Truth About GriefThe UndertakingThe Way of TransitionThe Work of MourningTo Die WellTuesdays with MorrieUnderstanding GriefWakeWhat Dying People WantWhen Breath Becomes AirWitWrinklesYoung@Heart

Related Topics
The Trick Is to Keep BreathingReview - The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
A Novel
by Janice Galloway
Dalkey Archive Press, 1994
Review by Meleah Maynard
Nov 30th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 48)

Last Spring a colleague of mine finished her 8-hour shift at a Minneapolis group home, drove to a nearby bridge and jumped. It took days to find her car, parked by the riverbank with a neatly typed suicide note lying on the dashboard. "Had she typed it at work?" There was talk of a kidnapper or a homicidal husband...or did she have a boyfriend? No one really knew for sure. She kept to herself a lot but she always smiled and said she was "fine."

But who really goes around work being how they really feel? Answer truthfully to: "How are you?" and get labeled social sinkhole faster than the woman who walks around work all day with her skirt hem caught up in the waistband of her tights.

Originally published by Polygon in Scotland, Janice Galloway's novel, The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, is the story of Joy Stone, a 27-year-old drama teacher who is trying to seem "normal" and go on with her life following the accidental drowning death of her married boyfriend.

First day back this term I wore a dress. I was neat. I handed in his music room keys and scored his name off the staff list with a single black line. I was discreet.... The smiling could only be accomplished by grinding my teeth.

Galloway has Joy narrate her own story, describing in lyric detail all the things she must do to seem "fine" and letting us in on how she really is anything but. Throughout the novel, Galloway uses different fonts and type sizes, indented paragraphs and scrunched jumbles of words that flow into the margins and sometimes off the page as if even the words have lost their way.

Writing in a style that often seems more akin to poetry than prose, Galloway has been compared with writer Sylvia Plath. "I clean the kitchen till my hands are swollen from cold water, red as ham." And, after a long day of pretend smiling at work: "I wait while it gets dark, trying to get out of my own skin and reach the corner of the room."

Stylistic Galloway/Plath comparisons seem warranted. And the two have also written about women dealing with severe depression. But it seems to me that Galloway's, Joy Stone, conveys a sense of hope - even as she starves herself to bones and runs about collecting her falling-out hair and rotten teeth - that Plath's characters do not. Plath's depression always seemed unrelenting and bottomless. Joy's depression is situational, even though she has endured many situations prior to her boyfriend's death. Like Galloway's own mother, Joy's mother tried to kill herself by walking into the sea. "She didn't die right away. At the funeral, the man I lived with shook my hand. I left him."

Joy wonders what allows other people to lead normal lives. She makes decisions to try and stay alive. She sees the doctors. She checks into Foresthouse, the psychiatric hospital, where she is given pink pajamas and red and yellow pills. The doctors are bored and then defensive when Joy asks about treatment. She calls them by number instead of name: "Dr. Two tells me he has been talking to his colleagues. They were agreed about one thing. I am definitely depressed...."

The patients not only have names, they have hairstyles and friendships and inpatient love affairs. They become more than diagnoses and that's hard in this atmosphere of "get 'em in, get 'em out" health care. (At one point in the book a doctor books a "double appointment," that's 20 minutes, because Joy seems so distraught.)

Galloway's novel tells us in raw and honest language what anyone, who has ever felt like giving up already knows. Sometimes the only thing to do is to just keep breathing.

Janice Galloway, author of The Trick Is to Keep Breathing (first published in 1989), is currently working on a novel based on the nineteenth-century musician Clara Schumann. Her novel Foreign Parts (1994) won the Mc Vitie's Prize. She has also published several collections of short stories.

Meleah Maynard recently left the mental health field to pursue her first love, writing short stories and book reviews. For the past seven years she has worked as a day treatment counselor in Minneapolis, teaching people living with schizophrenia how to write creatively, cook a well-balanced meal and scrutinize the next bunch of candidates who hope to be our next President.

To discuss this book or the review you have just read, join the Metapsychology Discussion E-Mail Group by going to this URL: http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/metapsy-discussion


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716