Greyson Todd is a successful Hollywood mogul. Ambitious and aggressive, he manipulates his clients and carefully controls their public personas, all the while struggling to control his own gut-wrenching fears and irrational panic. He has a loving wife, Ellen, who until recently had been his rock, and a young daughter, Willa, whom he adores. But one night Greyson tells Ellen he is going out to scoop dog waste in the yard and vanishes into the night. He has grown weary of fighting his fears and panic, so he simply leaves his well-constructed facade behind, convinced that Ellen and Willa will be far better off without him. He has a goodly stash of cash and some off-shore accounts that will finance his journey, and has secured financial security for his wife and daughter.
"This is hardly an easy book to read due to the subject matter, but it is an important and worthwhile one.... The book is beautifully written, and Greyson's exhausting struggles to climb back up to some modicum of emotional stability will have the reader rooting for him, even though he is not always a likable character."
On his way out of town, he visits his mother's grave and stays there until dawn. He loved and respected his kind mother and wishes she had survived instead of his father. As a child he thought his father was weak, useless, a real loser. As he grew up, he was deeply disgusted by his father's continual lies and inability to deal with reality, as well as his father's excesses and weaknesses.
Greyson heads for the airport, thus beginning a bizarre journey of thousands of miles to exotic places like Uganda, the Negev and Bangkok. He indulges in frequent sex, drugs, alcohol, and new identities. Always new identities. No one knows him in these far-flung places he visits, so he is free to invent and reinvent himself over and over. He stops struggling to control his behavior. Now confusion, sudden impulses, and bewildering fears and nameless panic are in charge of his daily life. Greyson's new reality is one shaped totally by his mental illness. Nothing is as it appears, he certainly cannot trust his memory, and the disorder has free reign to run amok, which it tragically does.
Greyson's bizarre journey across the globe and time eventually ends as all journeys do. His untreated disorder spirals horribly out of control, and he finds himself in a mental institution, a physical and mental wreck, a definite challenge to the medical staff. His gritty story is told in the first person narrative. As he recounts the results of 12, 30-second electric shock treatments, his life story (or what he can remember of it) emerges as bits and pieces --- of places, people and events. The reader must always be aware that this is a work of fiction and not a well-written memoir. At times it reads like stream-of-conscious writing, and the reader is trying to comprehend the ramblings of a heavily drugged, electrically-jolted mind. The memories are full of holes, not unlike Swiss cheese. What is reality, and do the jigsaw pieces of memory really form any kind of an accurate picture?
This is hardly an easy book to read due to the subject matter, but it is an important and worthwhile one. The reader is sometimes fascinated by the way Greyson manages to extricate himself from difficult situations in which he has placed himself, and saddened to watch Greyson plunge headfirst into his own personal hell. Author Juliann Garey paints vivid pictures with her perfectly-chosen words. The book is beautifully written, and Greyson's exhausting struggles to climb back up to some modicum of emotional stability will have the reader rooting for him, even though he is not always a likable character.
Garey takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride that will linger long after the novel has been read. It will be most interesting to see what subject matter this extremely gifted author chooses for her next book.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on January 4, 2013
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See