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Powell’s Q&A: Kay Redfield Jamison

Describe your latest book.
My latest book is Nothing Was the Same, a continuation of my earlier memoir, An Unquiet Mind, which described my experiences with manic-depressive (bipolar) illness and my work as a professor of psychiatry who suffers from the same illness that I study and treat.

Nothing Was the Same is a book about love and death, what the one gives and the other takes. It is an elegy, a remembrance of my late husband, a distinguished scientist and doctor, who was a man of courage and wit and someone whose support made it possible for me to contend with a difficult disease and to write about it in an open way. He handled with singular grace his own long struggle with the illness that eventually killed him.He handled with singular grace his own long struggle with the illness that eventually killed him. I wrote about his grace with dying, his gift for living, and then wrote about the pain of losing him. Because there is overlap between the experiences of grief and depression, I described how they are in some ways similar but in essential and profound ways different. Finally, I wrote of the re-emergence into life and the durability of love.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Sunset Song.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Byron: "Yet, see, he mastereth himself, and makes / His torture tributary to his will."

Graham Greene: "I can only believe in love that strikes suddenly out of a clear sky; I do not believe in the slow germination of friendship or one that asks 'why'?"

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
David Hume's grave, Edinburgh.

Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin?
Kelvin by image and concept, Celsius by sound.

Best television series of all time?
ALF, paws down. A wry account of an orange, eight-stomached, cat-eating alien and his adaptations to his human family and new planet.A wry account of an orange, eight-stomached, cat-eating alien and his adaptations to his human family and new planet.

Who is wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Perhaps I have been missing out on something, but I would have to give it to the rock bands.

Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Dogs, although turtles have a quiet charm.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise:
Memoirs and Other Writings by Scientists and Naturalists

On the Nature of the Universe by Lucretius

Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent by Alexander von Humboldt

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir

Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs by Wallace Stegner

The Dyer's Hand: An Autobiography by Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Richard Fortey

Journals of Henry David Thoreau

Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants by Katy Payne

Coming of Age with Elephants: A Memoir by Joyce Poole

Snow Crystals by W. A. Bentley and W. J. Humphreys

÷ ÷ ÷

Kay Redfield Jamison is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and codirector of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. She is also Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national bestsellers An Unquiet Mind and Night Falls Fast, as well as Exuberance and Touched with Fire; the coauthor of the standard medical text on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; and the author or coauthor of more than 100 scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. She is the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards and of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods...
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  3. Exuberance: The Passion for Life Used Trade Paper $9.00
  4. Nothing Was the Same: A Memoir
    Used Hardcover $10.50
  5. Sunset Song (Penguin Classics) New Trade Paper $15.25
  6. On the Nature of the Universe... Used Trade Paper $5.50
  7. Personal Narrative of a Journey to... New Trade Paper $16.25
  8. The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50

  9. My First Summer in the Sierra... Used Trade Paper $8.00
  10. Where the Bluebird Sings to the... New Trade Paper $16.00
  11. Life: A Natural History of the First...
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  12. Selections from the Journals (Dover... Used Trade Paper $0.95
  13. Snow Crystals Used Trade Paper $12.95

Kay Redfield Jamison is the author of Nothing Was the Same: A Memoir

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