The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

Award-winning novelist and poet Gayle Brandeis's wrenching memoir of her complicated family history and her mother's suicideGayle Brandeis's mother disappeared just after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days later, her body was found: she had hanged herself in the utility closet of a Pasadena parking garage. In this searing, formally inventive memoir, Gayle...

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Title:The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide
Author:Gayle Brandeis
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The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide Reviews

  • Romalyn Tilghman

    As an ardent fan of Gayle Brandeis' words, I pre-ordered the book and had it delivered on publication day. Then sat down and devoured it. The subject is difficult, no doubt about it, but in the end, this poignant memoir says far more about life than it does about death. Relationships are complex, as often "misdiagnosed" as the maladies of our bodies. As great writers do, the author captures the most specific details to underline universal truth, in this case the fine line between sanity and insa

    As an ardent fan of Gayle Brandeis' words, I pre-ordered the book and had it delivered on publication day. Then sat down and devoured it. The subject is difficult, no doubt about it, but in the end, this poignant memoir says far more about life than it does about death. Relationships are complex, as often "misdiagnosed" as the maladies of our bodies. As great writers do, the author captures the most specific details to underline universal truth, in this case the fine line between sanity and insanity. The words are those of a poet, carefully chosen, each meaningful, always insightful. The compelling story, exquisitely woven, will resonate and echo until the next reading.

  • Leslie Lindsay

    Gayle Brandeis's mother disappeared shortly after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days later, her body was found hanging in the utility closet of parking garage of an apartment building for the elderly.

    Gayle is struggling with grief and heartache, as well as the soupy surreal time of postpartum. Gayle takes this

    Gayle Brandeis's mother disappeared shortly after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days later, her body was found hanging in the utility closet of parking garage of an apartment building for the elderly.

    Gayle is struggling with grief and heartache, as well as the soupy surreal time of postpartum. Gayle takes this

    that brings readers into the grief experience.

    Or was it psychosis, after all? It's hard to say because the symptoms tend to overlap: delusions, paranoia, factitious disorders; Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, porphyria. For the last few years of Gayle's mother's life, she was working on a documentary about these disorders, called THE ART OF MISDIAGNOSIS. Gayle takes that script and braids it, along with her own feelings and experiences into the narrative.

    "Written by a gifted stylist,

    delves into the tangled mysteries of the disease, mental illness, and suicide, and comes out the other side with grace."

    For those who enjoyed

    (Melissa Cistaro),

    (Kathryn Craft) and

    (Jeannie Vanasco) will find

    resonates with similar themes.

    Special thanks to Beacon Press for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  • Sue

    Wow. I read the first line, “After my mother hangs herself, I become Nancy Drew,” and didn’t look up until I was 80 pages in. I looked up and dove back in again. This memoir about Brandeis’ mother’s suicide and so much more is a work of art. The title comes from the title of a documentary film her mother worked on for years. Gayle and her sister Elizabeth were both sick as teenagers, their suffering exacerbated by doctors who couldn’t see what was really wrong with them. Meanwhile, neither their

    Wow. I read the first line, “After my mother hangs herself, I become Nancy Drew,” and didn’t look up until I was 80 pages in. I looked up and dove back in again. This memoir about Brandeis’ mother’s suicide and so much more is a work of art. The title comes from the title of a documentary film her mother worked on for years. Gayle and her sister Elizabeth were both sick as teenagers, their suffering exacerbated by doctors who couldn’t see what was really wrong with them. Meanwhile, neither their mother or her doctors acknowledged the mother’s worsening mental illness that ultimately led to her death. Brandeis has created a quilted narrative that includes pieces of her mother’s film, posthumous letters to her mother, information uncovered in her detective work, and the day by day narrative of the events leading up to the mother’s death and beyond. The author has torn the bandage off every wound here, sometimes bleeding all over the pages, but it’s such a gripping story I couldn’t stop reading.

    At first, I wasn’t sure I could read this book. My uncle hanged himself the year before Brandeis’ mother committed suicide. I did not want to revisit that event. But she drew me in, and the book is wonderful.

  • Jordan

    A brilliant and harrowing peek back through the author's childhood illness, exaggerated and fostered by her brilliant but mentally ill mother who ultimately dies by suicide. Brandeis writes with a poet's beauty and a journalist's keen observation, making herself vulnerable as she pieces together the threads of her mother's mind as it intersected with her own health and sense of self. A beautiful, insightful, powerful memoir.

  • Rene Denfeld

    I can't believe I haven't reviewed this book until now—I was lucky to read an advanced copy. As someone who lost multiple family members to suicide, I found this to be an outstanding memoir. Brandeis is a gifted writer, capturing the terror, the complexity, the grief of losing loved ones to suicide.

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