In this courageous memoir, John Bentley Mays gives us a riveting account of what it is to live in the shadow of debilitating depression.
Weaving intimate recollections with excerpts from the diaries he kept for thirty years, Mays illuminates the struggle that leads to breakdown and the uneasy truce achieved through psychotherapy. Along the way, he offers provocative commentary on the allure of cure, the cultural scripts of normality, and the distorting mirror of clinical language.
A literary tour de force that began with an award winning essay, In the Jaws of the Black Dogs is not an objective analysis composed from the safety of hindsight. It is a writer's attempt to evoke the silent and distorting malignancy--as well as the moments of reprieve--of the only life he has ever known. Above all, he offers readers hope: Although the black dogs cannot be entirely avoided, humor and the love and understanding of family and friends can keep the dogs at bay.
From In The Jaws of the Black Dogs
"This book is a life with the black dogs of depression. I have written it in a clearing bounded by thickets roamed by the killing dogs, sometimes wondering, in the writing, whether I would complete it before they returned on silent paws to snatch the text and me away. For the depressed can never be sure we can finish anything we begin, or indeed certain of anything, except the black dogs' eventual return, and their terrible circling of the clearing's edge.
"There are a great many books about depression. This is not one of them. It is pain written, not observed; a depressive writer's writing, a testament transcribed from wounded flesh to paper in the clearing, before the black dogs' inevitable return."
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John Bentley Mays lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter. He is also the author of Power in the Blood; An Odyssey of Discovery in the American South.
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