Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me

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Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me
A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney
Constable & Robinson – £12.99

It’s not often one stumbles upon a book about mental illness that is capable
of being informative, whilst at the same time, quasi-comedic and entertaining. Marbles – Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me ticks all these boxes and (perhaps) a whole lot more besides.

Lifelong cartoonist – who collaborated on the National Book Award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian and created the Eisener Award-nominated comic books I Love Led Zeppelin and Monkey Food: The Complete ‘I Was Seven in ’75’ Collection – has herein compiled a brutally honest cross between a memoir and an altogether incisive study of mental illness.

As written in the New York Times Book Review: ”Forney’s greatest strength as a cartoonist is her gift for explanation – getting information across with vigour, wit and visual inventiveness.”

All of which really is true.

”Dedicated with immense gratitude” to her ”mother and psychiatrist,” these nine chapters, are, it has to be said, very American in both tonal quality and outlook: ”I gave one of my drawings to a non-English speaking local in a second-hand shop (we were simultaneously eying the same handmade skirt & she let me have it). It felt like an intense cross-cultural moment, perfect & profound […] . A glimpse of the dazzling network of connections that bind the universe […]. Breathtaking.”

Such Americanization – such as the spelling of this previous word with a ‘z’ – isn’t necessarily be a bad thing; it just takes a little bit of getting used to for one who (has not only worked in Mental Health) but reads with a vision that is fundamentally European if not British/English.

That said, the mere fact that such a fundamental issue as mental health can be addressed in a comedic, yet profoundly engaging way, is in itself, somewhat inventive. If not commendable.

David Marx

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