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Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass
By Annita Perez Sawyer
Santa Fe Writers Project
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
Annita Perez Sawyer's memoir Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass is hugely typical of a type of book we get sent here all the time; a fascinating true story but from someone who is not usually a creative writer, most often published on a tiny press that exists specifically for these kinds of manuscripts, it's hard to deny that such books are immediately compelling simply from the spellbinding nature of the autobiographical tale they're telling, even as I'm forced to admit that the actual writing style of most of these books is only pedestrian at best. In this case Sawyer has put together a look at her youth as a misdiagnosed schizophrenic in the early 1960s, back when such conditions were typically treated with cruel and ineffective electroshock therapy and then incarceration into a "medical" facility that in the Mid-Century Modernist years was more like a prison, the hook here being that Sawyer grew up to be a respected psychotherapist herself, and was able to literally use her own medical records from her own youth to help change the way the entire profession now looks at the subject of bipolar disorder. As such, then, certainly this book is an enjoyable page-turner, and will hold a lot of interest for those who are grappling with these subjects themselves; but be warned that, typical of these kinds of memoirs, the writing itself is no great shakes, a manuscript that at least does the job of conveying the sentences Sawyer wishes to communicate, but that doesn't do much more than that. A recommendation today but a limited one, mostly to people who are already fascinated by this subject and wish to learn more.
Out of 10: 8.0