Heavy Light

A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing

Horatio Clare author

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Vintage Publishing

Published: 4th Mar '21

£16.99

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'An extraordinary book: deeply moving, darkly funny and hugely powerful' Robert Macfarlane

Heavy Light is the story of a breakdown: a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing.

After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

From hypomania in the Alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we can be healed - or not - by treatment. A story of the wonder and intensity of the manic experience, as well as its peril and strangeness, it is shot through with the love, kindness, humour and care of those who deal with someone who becomes dangerously ill.

Partly a tribute to those who looked after Horatio, from family and friends to strangers and professionals, and partly an investigation into how we understand and treat acute crises of mental health, Heavy Light's beauty, power and compassion illuminate a fundamental part of human experience. It asks urgent questions about mental health that affect each and every one of us.


'One of the most brilliant travel writers of our day takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own' Reverend Richard Coles

'A record of the bravest, most perilous, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make. It is stricken, moving, urgent, crucial . . . A luminous, beautiful achievement' Niall Griffiths

A beautiful, unflinchingly honest book about madness, mania, parenting, surviving and, above all, love and its power to heal us * Rachel Clarke, author of Dear Life and Breathtaking *
A brave, lit-up account of going mad and getting better, that forensically tracks the footprints of both journeys towards a settlement with the self -- Jeanette Winterson
Readers of Clare's game-changing memoir . . . will be struck by the fact that a mind so recently dominated by straight-to-DVD fantasies is now capable of reflecting on them with so much gentle wisdom and acute self-awareness. And in such beautiful, witty prose * Daily Telegraph *
Hard-hitting but tender-hearted . . . Clare thoughtfully and determinedly seeks to challenge the status-quo on treatment for mental health conditions * Independent *
What a gift...having such an articulate agent, reporting back from the far edges of the mind * Sunday Times *
I loved Heavy Light: its honesty, its questing intelligence...his description of our threadbare mental health services, and the inhuman pressures on those who work in them, is heart-breaking. We have to do better * British Medical Journal *
A shattering journey . . . remarkable -- Sheena Joughin * Times Literary Supplement *
Clare is a wildly endearing narrator of his own turmoil . . . [his] is a persuasive argument not only against chemical answers to his own illness, but also against the hasty (and often permanent) way individuals are labelled with diagnostic categories -- Brian Dillon * Financial Times *
Compelling, beautifully-written and utterly devastating. A balm in itself -- Katie Law * Evening Standard *
Clare brilliantly describes his mania... But he has a wider purpose here. Following his discharge from hospital Clare sets out to explore alternatives to the lifetime of terrifyingly strong medication he has been prescribed -- Stephanie Cross * Lady *
An extraordinary book: deeply moving, darkly funny and hugely powerful. It travels hard country: mania, paranoia, the huge collateral damage of madness. It shows its readers, unforgettably, what it is like to see the world on a "skewed plane". But the star by which it steers is, in the end and above all, love. This book confirms that Horatio Clare is among the most brilliant and compassionate writers of non-fiction I know -- Robert Macfarlane
Heavy Light is a record of the bravest, most perilous, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make. It is stricken, moving, urgent, crucial, and deserves to -- and, I don't doubt, will -- stand alongside such classics of the genre as Solomon's Noonday Demon, Leader's What is Madness?, even Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. A luminous, beautiful achievement -- Niall Griffiths
Clare is a ferociously gifted writer . . . Just as George Orwell's time in destitution exposed poverty when he was Down and Out in London and Paris so too does Horatio Clare's bravely brilliant and brilliantly brave book expose the failings of the mental health system, even as it intimates hope. In this it reminds one of a very different book, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which not only showed the problem of pesticides but acted as a clarion call . . . Hopefully the shining of a Heavy Light might do the same -- Jon Gower * Nation Cymru *
A superb and shining achievement . . . Heavy Light is an odyssey for our times, full of hope in an uncertain future . . . a life-changing experience -- Sue Brooks * Caught by the River *
I tore through Heavy Light, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it -- Amy Liptrot

ISBN: 9781784743529

Dimensions: 222mm x 144mm x 33mm

Weight: 468g

352 pages