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David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspire David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspires readers with his courage, joining the literary ranks of Terri Cheney (Manic), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Marya Hornbacher (Wasted), and Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted). “A harrowing journey from self-destructive psychosis to a cautious re-emergence into the flickering sunshine of the sane world….Fitzpatrick writes about mental illness with the unsparing intensity of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton but also with the hard-won self-knowledge of William Styron, Kay Jamison, and other chroniclers of disease, recovery, and management…. A must read, remarkably told.” —Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much is True


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David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspire David Fitzpatrick’s Sharp is an extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness. A beautifully written treatment of a powerful subject, Fitzpatrick—whose symptoms included extreme depression and self-mutilation—writes movingly and honestly about his affliction and inspires readers with his courage, joining the literary ranks of Terri Cheney (Manic), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Marya Hornbacher (Wasted), and Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted). “A harrowing journey from self-destructive psychosis to a cautious re-emergence into the flickering sunshine of the sane world….Fitzpatrick writes about mental illness with the unsparing intensity of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton but also with the hard-won self-knowledge of William Styron, Kay Jamison, and other chroniclers of disease, recovery, and management…. A must read, remarkably told.” —Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much is True

30 review for Sharp: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Sharp: A Memoir by David Fitzpatrick is not an easy book to read. Oh, Fitzpatrick is extremely articulate and the memoir is definitely well written, but the raw emotions he shares with candor and honesty makes this one tough book to read. It is truly about going to hell and back - if hell is a mental state. After college mental illness gripped author David Fitzpatrick's life and began almost two decades of torment. He began cutting at age twenty-three after breaking up with a girlfriend. Before t Sharp: A Memoir by David Fitzpatrick is not an easy book to read. Oh, Fitzpatrick is extremely articulate and the memoir is definitely well written, but the raw emotions he shares with candor and honesty makes this one tough book to read. It is truly about going to hell and back - if hell is a mental state. After college mental illness gripped author David Fitzpatrick's life and began almost two decades of torment. He began cutting at age twenty-three after breaking up with a girlfriend. Before this, however, he endured years of bullying, first at the hands of his older brother and later by his college roommates. He accepted the abuse with a stoicism that defied logic. Once his low self esteem combined with depression his psychosis was obvious when it resulted in extreme self-injury; this lead to years in the psychiatric wings of hospitals and extensive therapy, including drugs and shock treatments. He freely shares his experiences and all the raw emotions he was feeling, including the thoughts he was dwelling on when his psychosis overtook rational thought. In some ways I felt like this memoir was almost too open and honest. Some of his sexual experiences weren't necessary to share in much detail. I was also concerned in several places that his descriptions could potentially be a trigger for those inclined to self-harm. The good news is that Fitzpatrick came back from the edge of oblivion to take his life back and write this book. While the details of his illness and therapy over the years are disturbing and difficult to read, the real story is that, in the end, Fitzpatrick is liberated from his path of destruction and regains his life. Highly Recommended - but not for the faint hearted. Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book for review purposes. http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    After a certain point in the book, I had to constantly remind myself that the author emerges from his battle with mental illness as a much healthier person (obviously, as he is stable enough to write a memoir). But getting to that point is grueling, really grueling. Would have liked to read more about his transition from institution to living alone and getting his life back--he spends a surprisingly short amount of time talking about that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen Trudell

    Thesaurus much? I feel bad for this guy, he went through hell, and he seems to have a good heart. But the adjectives! So many adjectives! Sometimes used incorrectly, sometimes used bizarrely, always strung together in never ending adjective-trains. The writing is just plain bad. "Insipid" does not mean what he thinks it means. Luscious! Scrumptious! Breasts! WTF is up with all the breasts? Did I mention the adjectives?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I tend to like dark memoirs, but this was just too depressing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rogine

    I enjoyed had the pleasure had a fun reading experience can never find the right words to describe how I feel after reading such heartbreaking and genuine memoirs such as David Fitzpatrick's Sharp. I am a great lover of memoirs, and a huge portion of the books I read consists of people having the strength and courage to share the world what they've been through and how they felt in that particular time of their lives. Fitzpatrick wrote about his experience with the demons he had fought almost hi I enjoyed had the pleasure had a fun reading experience can never find the right words to describe how I feel after reading such heartbreaking and genuine memoirs such as David Fitzpatrick's Sharp. I am a great lover of memoirs, and a huge portion of the books I read consists of people having the strength and courage to share the world what they've been through and how they felt in that particular time of their lives. Fitzpatrick wrote about his experience with the demons he had fought almost his entire life, self-harming and mental illnesses. It is indeed such a sensitive subject and can be difficult to read at times. It takes power to start and finish reading such a brutally honest memoir like this, and I could only imagine how much strength Fitzpatrick had in him to go through this very dark moment in his life and actually write about it not only to warn people about the horrors of self-mutilating but also give hope to those who are going through what he went through. It is evident throughout the book that he offered the truest version of himself with the way he did not try to hide anything about his past. He shared his darkest moments accompanied with the raw emotional pain he felt at those times. This is possibly one of the most emotional memoirs I've read in my life, and there were times while I was reading the book when I felt like I was there with him, fighting the same battles as him. His words portrayed nothing but the truth, and I will forever admire his spirit for going through and recovering from one of the most tragic battles a person could only face and fight on their own. This is a very important book, and even though I cannot fully personally relate to what he went through, I found myself absolutely immersed in his words because I know people who were plagued by the same demons as him. This gave me a better understanding of what kind of pain and suffering they went through, and in situations like these, understanding is the the best thing I could offer. I did additional research on Fitzpatrick, and I was glad to learn that he continues to impart wisdom to the people around him and also shed a ray of hope for people who feel like there is none for them. "I'm a good and whole thing" were the last words of this memoir, and I could not think of a better way to end this book. In the end, he was able to feel good and whole again. And there is a part of him that hopes that whoever picks up the book and reads his story will feel good and whole again regardless of what they're going through.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    True story, mostly. I like the disclaimer at the beginning (no repeat of James Frey's saga). David Fitzpatrick had a pretty normal childhood, friends, siblings, bullies, girlfriends. However, when he went to college, things started to get dark. He found himself in a vicious cycle of depression and he turned to self mutilation. As the years progressed, his mental illness intensified, as did his cutting behaviors. Determined to harm himself, and unable to stop, David began seeing a psychiatrist, a True story, mostly. I like the disclaimer at the beginning (no repeat of James Frey's saga). David Fitzpatrick had a pretty normal childhood, friends, siblings, bullies, girlfriends. However, when he went to college, things started to get dark. He found himself in a vicious cycle of depression and he turned to self mutilation. As the years progressed, his mental illness intensified, as did his cutting behaviors. Determined to harm himself, and unable to stop, David began seeing a psychiatrist, and eventually ended up at a mental hospital. He's unable to cut himself deep enough to release some of the inner darkness that plagues him daily. His grotesque behavior is shocking and filthy to healthy people, but to him, his routines have symbolism and meaning. David spends most of his 20s and 30s institutionalized. He has some brief stints in half-way houses, until he relapses, and finds himself a professional in the mental health circuit. This book is written well, but took me a while to get sucked in. The beginning seems vague and disoriented, most likely David's own experiences when he was in college. He does a good job of explaining the reasoning behind cutting and self-mutilation, while not validating or encouraging the behavior. It's disturbing and dark, but important to know about, and know that people do get better, and that there is help available.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Until I read David Fitzpatrick’s account in Sharp of what it is like to be a self-harmer, I never really understood how someone could do that to themselves (cutting, burning, etc). I am not good with pain at all, and I can’t imagine ever putting myself in pain on purpose. After reading this book, though, I understand it a bit better. Really, we can never truly understand what brings people to self-harm until we are in that situation, but I now have a much better idea. This is a really horrible a Until I read David Fitzpatrick’s account in Sharp of what it is like to be a self-harmer, I never really understood how someone could do that to themselves (cutting, burning, etc). I am not good with pain at all, and I can’t imagine ever putting myself in pain on purpose. After reading this book, though, I understand it a bit better. Really, we can never truly understand what brings people to self-harm until we are in that situation, but I now have a much better idea. This is a really horrible addiction, and I can’t imagine feeling so awful about myself that I would be led to hurting myself repeatedly in order to feel better. If you’re looking for a better understanding of the self-harm addiction…if you know someone who is self-harming…if you have had this addiction in the past, or if you are going through it now and would like to read about someone who has been there before you, I recommend this book. Read my review of Sharp in full on Between the Covers...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rei Avocado

    when i first started reading this book, i thought fitzpatrick was full of shit. like yeah hes obviously gearing up to talk about some of the most intense horrors the human brain can produce, but his prose is so full of shit. like is that REALLY how you speak? did you talk like some kind of dickens character growing up? cmon. aside from that....this book really held me, even though it was extremely difficult to get through. there are many genuinely touching moments scattered throughout the book bu when i first started reading this book, i thought fitzpatrick was full of shit. like yeah hes obviously gearing up to talk about some of the most intense horrors the human brain can produce, but his prose is so full of shit. like is that REALLY how you speak? did you talk like some kind of dickens character growing up? cmon. aside from that....this book really held me, even though it was extremely difficult to get through. there are many genuinely touching moments scattered throughout the book but the parts where fitzpatrick describes the worst of the crises are very hard to read. anyway, its tedious in the beginning because hes setting everything up and he really does sound like hes full of shit but later on i think he realized no one actually speaks like that and started reconstructing the dialogue better. pretty good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mary Avrakotos

    Mary Fitzpatrick offers a window into the cutter's world and the incredible toll that self hatred extracts. It is a reminder of the devastation that bullying can cause whether by a sibling or purported friends. It is a page turner and thankfully a story of redemption and the perseverance of a man who overcomes his compulsion to self inflict pain. In the end this is the story of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.(less)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carol Moreira

    Beautifully written memoir about one man's experience with severe mental illness. The author writes movingly about his struggles which manifest in long term self-mutiliation. His illness seems to be caused by genetics and extreme bullying a at the hands of other males. The memoir is useful for anyone interested in mental illness. It is particularly valuable as it is rare for men to be so frank about self-mutiliation and bullying.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Livingston

    I don't know where to start... The author was part of an intact family with parents that loved him and a brother that tormented him. It was traumatic. Then he went on to college where he seemed to be frequently stoned as well as to be increasingly harassed and abused by his roommates, also traumatic. At some point he begins to self harm, to cut himself with razors. His self mutilation is horrific and hard to read. He later starts burning himself with cigarettes. He goes through so much it was gru I don't know where to start... The author was part of an intact family with parents that loved him and a brother that tormented him. It was traumatic. Then he went on to college where he seemed to be frequently stoned as well as to be increasingly harassed and abused by his roommates, also traumatic. At some point he begins to self harm, to cut himself with razors. His self mutilation is horrific and hard to read. He later starts burning himself with cigarettes. He goes through so much it was grueling to read and I wouldn't have continued if there wasn't a happier ending. And there is. What were my thoughts in general? - He was really mentally ill. I can hardly believe what he did to himself. - I'm relieved that I didn't have to go through what he did. - I didn't entirely relate to him because though I used to self harm I didn't do it the same way, with the same feelings that is. - It must be nice to have had all that money to go to private facilities. Makes me wonder what a regular state mental hospital is like. A nightmare all by itself? A traumatic experience to endure all by itself? He spends so much time on the bad that it would have been nice to spend a bit more time on the positive, after he goes out on his own. This book was horrific, grueling. It's worth reading for such a different point of view and maybe to try to understand the mind of a self-harmer but keep in mind that not all self-harmers have the same point of view, motivations, feelings and not all go off the deep end like he did. Better to read more than one book on self-harming if you're curious.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Lenko

    This memoir was deeply moving. I found the transparency with which he discussed his mental illness was triggering for me so I had to go through in small doses, but by the end, the hope was so redemptive... readers should be very cautious if they are squeamish or at a fragile point in their mental health journey.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    3.5/5 Sharp is David Fitzpatrick’s story of mental illness and self-mutilation. At a young age, he began experiencing signs of depression and severe mental illness, eventually culminating in cutting and hospitalization. Sharp tells the story of his life, including the bullying and harassment he received as a child and young adult, to the hospitalizations he experienced as a result of his illness. Frightening, disturbing, and shocking, this memoir tells the true story of one young man’s descent in 3.5/5 Sharp is David Fitzpatrick’s story of mental illness and self-mutilation. At a young age, he began experiencing signs of depression and severe mental illness, eventually culminating in cutting and hospitalization. Sharp tells the story of his life, including the bullying and harassment he received as a child and young adult, to the hospitalizations he experienced as a result of his illness. Frightening, disturbing, and shocking, this memoir tells the true story of one young man’s descent into near madness, and how he got out. WOW! This is my initial reaction to reading David’s story. The things he experienced, the pain and madness he endured… it was all so shocking. David is no-holds-barred in telling his story, including every disturbing and grotesque thought he had, the blood he spilled on purpose, and his uncomfortable interactions with family, peers, and therapists. It was painful to read at times, and I often found his story so disturbing and crazy that I couldn’t believe it was true, but it is! He was literally tormented by his brother as a child, then later in college tormented by his supposed friends and roommates, all which led up to a huge downward spiral. He fell deeper and deeper into depression and mental illness until he could not find his way out. He ended up in mental hospitals for many years where his progress was often stalled by his desire to cut again. The thoughts he had about himself and others were horrifying and frightening. This is disturbing stuff, people, but it’s a strong story that needed to be told. At times the story jumped around a bit too much and I found myself confused, and weird passages were randomly thrown in there, including his bizarre dreams and such, but all in all, this was a solid, strong read. While I struggled at first with the first 60 pages or so, which I found boring, after awhile I really got into it and found it hard to put down. If you’re interested in mental illness and psychology, like I am, I’d recommend you check this memoir out. Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ward

    'Sharp: My Story of Madness, Cutting, and How I Reclaimed My Life' is a heartfelt and insightful memoir of the author's fight with mental illness and how he came to beat it. The book speaks of his family history, his personal background, and how mental illness sent him over the edge to the point where he was cutting himself and had to be institutionalized several times. This was a really intriguing memoir that I felt compelled to read due to the fact that I personally suffer from mental illness, 'Sharp: My Story of Madness, Cutting, and How I Reclaimed My Life' is a heartfelt and insightful memoir of the author's fight with mental illness and how he came to beat it. The book speaks of his family history, his personal background, and how mental illness sent him over the edge to the point where he was cutting himself and had to be institutionalized several times. This was a really intriguing memoir that I felt compelled to read due to the fact that I personally suffer from mental illness, as do several members of my family. It was heartbreaking to read about the horrors that the author faced while in the grips of his mental illness, as I was truly able to empathize with his irrational thoughts, his fears, and his overall state of being. I found his personal anecdotes to be fascinating and I was able to really identify with him, especially when it came to family issues and personal problems. It's really hard to explain to someone who doesn't suffer from mental illness the extreme impact it has on the people who suffer from it as well as those close to them. I really felt that the author was able to express himself and his trials with eloquence and in a way that even people without experience with mental illness can relate to and hopefully understand. Being that I have been around mental illness my entire life and suffer from several forms of it myself, I was amazed at the clarity and the insight that the author provides throughout the book. I found the part of the memoir that describes his treatment as well as how he overcame his illness truly uplifting and full of hope for those who currently suffer with similar problems. Although this memoir isn't for everyone - as it does contain drugs, sex, mental illness, self mutilation, and other difficult topics - those that do read it will find a realistic insight into mental illness and the rough road of recovery. It's truly a book that will stay with you long after you've finished the last page and I highly recommend it for fans of memoirs or those who suffer from mental illness or know someone who does. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie E. Ramm

    David Fitzpatrick had it all as a young man, including a degree from a great university, good-looks, and artistic promise. However, mental illness swooped in and stole it all away, shaking its finger in his face, saying "Don't be stupid. You don't deserve that!" His crippling, low self-esteem drove him to cut himself, which for once in his life gave him a semblance of control. David Fitzpatrick, now in his 40s, revisits the time before mental illness claimed his life with astonishing clarity. Des David Fitzpatrick had it all as a young man, including a degree from a great university, good-looks, and artistic promise. However, mental illness swooped in and stole it all away, shaking its finger in his face, saying "Don't be stupid. You don't deserve that!" His crippling, low self-esteem drove him to cut himself, which for once in his life gave him a semblance of control. David Fitzpatrick, now in his 40s, revisits the time before mental illness claimed his life with astonishing clarity. Describing abusive relationships with his brother growing up and later with his roommates in college, his sexual and romantic relationships that held such promise but ultimately failed, and the terror of graduating and feeling like you aren't fit to do anything in the world. He goes into gruesome detail about cutting himself and the high that he got from doing it; surviving mental institution after mental institution; the amazing, broken people that he met on his journey to health; the horrible effects of medication; and the seemingly endless therapy sessions. Fitzpatrick takes us on his journey of losing himself completely to a disease and finally regaining his life through a mixture of determination and sensing that the disease had run its course. Sharp is the best memoir I have read, aside from The Glass Castle. In order to be good, which so few are, memoirs have to be truly revealing. Fitzpatrick spares us no detail of his blood soaked psyche and deleterious self-image. His writing has an artistic vision that had me itching to read the novel he will one day write. The things that Fitzpatrick goes through are horrendous, but on some level everyone has experienced low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, and depressive thoughts. I felt a connection with all of the moments leading up to self-harm, and I was really rooting for him to get better and feeling so low every time he failed. David Fitzpatrick is a writer that we should all keep an eye on, because someday he's going to blow us all away, like a 21st century Salinger!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julie G

    I've discussed my own depression on the blog before, and it's obviously a topic that means something to me personally. I was particularly interested to see this memoir from David Fitzpatrick that chronicles his depression, self-mutilation, and resulting years spent in mental hospitals. It's not as common to hear men describe themselves as self-injuring and it's much less common in an adult male. Given his experiences, which lasted into his thirties, I knew he would have a unique take on depressi I've discussed my own depression on the blog before, and it's obviously a topic that means something to me personally. I was particularly interested to see this memoir from David Fitzpatrick that chronicles his depression, self-mutilation, and resulting years spent in mental hospitals. It's not as common to hear men describe themselves as self-injuring and it's much less common in an adult male. Given his experiences, which lasted into his thirties, I knew he would have a unique take on depression and cutting. Writing This came with an endorsement from Wally Lamb, who is a hit or miss author for me. Similarly, Fitzpatrick's writing had its highs and lows. Overall, I wasn't just hugely impressed with the quality of the writing. Fitzpatrick writes like you'd expect the stereotypical MFA to write. It came across as trying too hard and forced. There were wonderful moments, but the heavy-handed literary-ness of it turned me off. Entertainment Value Who wants to say they were entertained by the story of someone else's devastation and heartbreak? Kind of hard to rave about how fascinating you found it, but in this case it is true. Fitzpatrick has a really unique take on the issue of depression, cutting, and hospitalization because of his age and gender. It's a great look at the disease and stigma of mental illness from a very original point of view. To me, that made the book worth reading. Overall I think if you are interested in the topics of depression and mental illness as told through personal experience, you should give this a try if only to read Fitzpatrick's unique story. The writing could have been less forced in places, but I don't think it takes away from the value of the story. It's also a good read for fans of grittier memoirs. Thank you to TLC for providing me with a copy to review. Click here to see a list of all the blogs participating in this tour.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jody

    I'm still reeling a bit after reading this. It was a brutal read at times, yet it needed to be in order to accurately describe the author's harrowing journey through his cutting addiction and mental illness. This was beyond 'visceral' it was searingly graphic. I've read other reviews about this and must concur that I've never really understood the euphoria that one experiences from cutting and why it's so addictive. This memoir is a definitive answer to those who don't understand why someone wo I'm still reeling a bit after reading this. It was a brutal read at times, yet it needed to be in order to accurately describe the author's harrowing journey through his cutting addiction and mental illness. This was beyond 'visceral' it was searingly graphic. I've read other reviews about this and must concur that I've never really understood the euphoria that one experiences from cutting and why it's so addictive. This memoir is a definitive answer to those who don't understand why someone would want to 'cut'. David Fitzpatrick deserves every triumph, every joy, and every moment of happiness. He truly went through hell and back. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, though. Several times I thought of putting it down for good because I didn't think I had the strength to remain in his tormented mind. I can only imagine the horror it was for him when he was in its grip, if this was my experience as a mere reader. As far as 'rawness' think "A Million Little Pieces" somehow morphed in with the opening scene from the film, Saving Private Ryan. It's one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. I have a penchant for books that spread awareness about mental illness and this is the first one that I literally cowered at. David is a hero in my book. And this memoir, hard as it is to stomach, needed to be written. I feel like he exorcised his demons by writing it. May the light shine brightly on you now, David!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alkatraz

    This is the memoir of a man who fought his demons for years, half of his life really, and managed to survive it all. David Fitzpatrick is a self harmer, he started in his early twenties, he's obviously a man, and he's an anomaly. The statistics used to lean more towards women self-injuring, but that number has evened out to nearly 50-50 in recent years. In the 1990's, mental patients that injured were mostly female and patients in general were kept in hospital for many months to many years. Dav This is the memoir of a man who fought his demons for years, half of his life really, and managed to survive it all. David Fitzpatrick is a self harmer, he started in his early twenties, he's obviously a man, and he's an anomaly. The statistics used to lean more towards women self-injuring, but that number has evened out to nearly 50-50 in recent years. In the 1990's, mental patients that injured were mostly female and patients in general were kept in hospital for many months to many years. David tells us his life of pain and fear, surviving an abusive brother, then abusive room mates in college. He fell fast and deep into the world of self harm and stayed there for some time. With each minor triumph, I felt the need to shout out in joy for him. With each set back, I felt the pain and disappointment. He writes in a very open way, no frills, and comments on his own faults. "I'm a dramatic person... if you haven't figured that out by now." He tells us about his therapists and the other patients, and how each one helped him in their own way. Truly an inspiring story of strength in the face of great odds, even if he didn't feel strong at the time. I have depression and PTSD, Mr Fitzpatrick's life and success at beating his illness gives me hope in managing mine.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    _Sharp_ is a kind of Freudian, male book. Fitzpatrick tells the story of finding his way back after almost twenty years of hospitalizations and therapy for a cutting disorder. His fantasies are often about sexual stuff--he often dreams of flying penises--and one shrink tells him that every time he cuts he creates a little vagina. It's an interesting book for several reasons: (1) he's institutionalized at a time when institutionalization is becoming more and more rare and his middle-class parents _Sharp_ is a kind of Freudian, male book. Fitzpatrick tells the story of finding his way back after almost twenty years of hospitalizations and therapy for a cutting disorder. His fantasies are often about sexual stuff--he often dreams of flying penises--and one shrink tells him that every time he cuts he creates a little vagina. It's an interesting book for several reasons: (1) he's institutionalized at a time when institutionalization is becoming more and more rare and his middle-class parents took out an insurance policy for him that cover intensive treatment; (2) he gets better and gets out of the institutions without becoming a "professional mental patient;" (3) he's really honest about how the illness impacts his life, what his delusions felt like, and the slow path to getting better. I hadn't read anything particularly about cutting before, and since cutting is often more found in women then men, this was fascinating on that level as well. It felt a little bit like a real life version of Wally Lamb's Delores Price in terms of story arch, which seems right as Fitzpatrick is a fan of Lamb. I appreciate Fitzpatrick's willingness to write so openly about mental illness, but the book freaked me out a little bit with its graphicness.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Snyder

    I suppose I should have more empathy but this is the most uninteresting depressive I have ever read about. I can't remember ever being so happy to finish a book. It was clear from the beginning that Fitzpatrick was repressing his homosexuality from an early age. It was confirmed when he described Jordan’s “The Shot” against the Cavs as follows: “When I returned Michael Jordan was on the TV, with several seconds remaining to hit an amazing jump shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “ That’s not q I suppose I should have more empathy but this is the most uninteresting depressive I have ever read about. I can't remember ever being so happy to finish a book. It was clear from the beginning that Fitzpatrick was repressing his homosexuality from an early age. It was confirmed when he described Jordan’s “The Shot” against the Cavs as follows: “When I returned Michael Jordan was on the TV, with several seconds remaining to hit an amazing jump shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “ That’s not quite how a straight dude remembers it. I genuinely hope I don’t come off as so self-pitying and as such a burden. To be fair though, I can’t really relate to how difficult it must have been growing up Summering on Martha’s Vineyard. A characteristic of Depressives is that they are realistic. Fitzpatrick’s notion that he was well-known as an undergrad because he had a decent jumper in intramurals makes me question whether he is actually delusional. I guess I should have read the blurbs on the back cover. The most complimentary came from the untitled Wally Lamb. Just Wally Lamb. Apparently he is an author. He got his name dropped toward the end of the book. Still taking recommendations for reads.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara Strand

    I've read quite a few memoirs and I really like memoirs- I love getting a glimpse into someone else's life and seeing how I can relate to them. David is a really terrific writer and this story flows from his young adult self to his fully adult self and you get to see the complete wave of mental illness play out. To be honest, I felt absolutely terrible for him. From obvious bullying in college to his struggle with mental illness and all that includes is enough to make a normal person feel down o I've read quite a few memoirs and I really like memoirs- I love getting a glimpse into someone else's life and seeing how I can relate to them. David is a really terrific writer and this story flows from his young adult self to his fully adult self and you get to see the complete wave of mental illness play out. To be honest, I felt absolutely terrible for him. From obvious bullying in college to his struggle with mental illness and all that includes is enough to make a normal person feel down on life. And even in the lowest moments of his life, he still kept plugging along. Ultimately he slowly climbs out of it and it's an incredibly story of how a person can fall so low and still come back. It's obviously not easy, not at all, but he did it. And it's really a great story of hope. It really is one of the best memoirs I have ever read because it really pulls it all together. I absolutely recommend this book for anyone who struggles with mental illness because it really is a great piece of writing that they can use to get themselves through it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Burned through the first 150 pages of this today at Barnes and Noble... i'll probably go back to finish the second half some time soon. I don't really sympathize with a lot of the author's "problems", pretty typical bully/family stuff that I feel he sort of blows out of proportion. However, I can relate to some of the feelings he describes, which he does describe well. The book is written for easy reading, for the layman (I am a layman), which I appreciate (this was a random grab at Barnes and N Burned through the first 150 pages of this today at Barnes and Noble... i'll probably go back to finish the second half some time soon. I don't really sympathize with a lot of the author's "problems", pretty typical bully/family stuff that I feel he sort of blows out of proportion. However, I can relate to some of the feelings he describes, which he does describe well. The book is written for easy reading, for the layman (I am a layman), which I appreciate (this was a random grab at Barnes and Noble, so it could have just as well been way too difficult/esoteric for me... I'm not actually that big of a reader). Anyway, his personal anecdotes make it memorable, I feel. Especially the stuff about his roommates, that was by far the most interesting to me. There are sparse descriptions of location, which I feel works well; I ended up painting mental pictures of the locations in my mind, which is always interesting. There's a nice personal quality that makes the stories feel like they're being told by a friend. Not a bad read so far.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jael

    "Just as Presley said, I was becoming like many young men who go from a first visit at a mental hospital and then to the fifth and then the tenth and then are suddenly transformed into chronics. That was a significant lesson I learned quickly -- it's excruciatingly hard not to return to a psychiatric ward. Once you've been broken to a certain point -- attempting suicide or cutting or having a breakdown or psychosis, you will probably be admitted again. It's a horrible fact, really, but it's trut "Just as Presley said, I was becoming like many young men who go from a first visit at a mental hospital and then to the fifth and then the tenth and then are suddenly transformed into chronics. That was a significant lesson I learned quickly -- it's excruciatingly hard not to return to a psychiatric ward. Once you've been broken to a certain point -- attempting suicide or cutting or having a breakdown or psychosis, you will probably be admitted again. It's a horrible fact, really, but it's truth." -- Pg. 193 That's a long passage to begin with, but I felt it was one of the most insightful in Sharp: My Story of Madness, Cutting, and How I Reclaimed My Life by David Fitzpatrick. For starters, this book isn't for everyone. After just a couple of chapters I wasn't sure it was for me. Initially, David Fitzpatrick sounded like a typical college student who never grew up. But as I delved deeper and deeper into the book, I realized that wasn't the case. Read the rest of my review at: http://www.asiturnthepages.blogspot.c...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carissa

    The author's story is fascinating, but I would have liked a lot more insight. You spend a significant portion of the book with him in the times before his illness, then the bulk of the book in the illness itself, but without the same depth. It feels voyeuristic. Then the book pretty abruptly ends. "I started to feel better, then I felt better. Now I have a wife, here's a few paragraphs about that. And hey, don't give up." This after chapter upon chapter of his 20 year slog through a horrible bip The author's story is fascinating, but I would have liked a lot more insight. You spend a significant portion of the book with him in the times before his illness, then the bulk of the book in the illness itself, but without the same depth. It feels voyeuristic. Then the book pretty abruptly ends. "I started to feel better, then I felt better. Now I have a wife, here's a few paragraphs about that. And hey, don't give up." This after chapter upon chapter of his 20 year slog through a horrible bipolar/self-mutilation odyssey. I KNOW this person must have put a ton of work into his recovery, but he didn't really seem to convey that in a way I could understand or appreciate. Nevertheless I commend him for making it through and writing this; even though it wasn't the easiest or most balanced read, it was still very unique and I'm glad I read it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Maslyk

    To say I enjoyed this book would not be an honest description of how I felt reading it. What would be honest and accurate was that this book brought out feelings and understanding to me about what mental illness can do to a person. I grew up with a bipolar mother and this brought back the memories of her and how she responded (and didnt) to the world and people around her. I cried after reading this book as I was emotional thinking about what my poor Mother went through and how we, as young adul To say I enjoyed this book would not be an honest description of how I felt reading it. What would be honest and accurate was that this book brought out feelings and understanding to me about what mental illness can do to a person. I grew up with a bipolar mother and this brought back the memories of her and how she responded (and didnt) to the world and people around her. I cried after reading this book as I was emotional thinking about what my poor Mother went through and how we, as young adults, couldnt really help her the way we should have ... we just didnt understand. This book is amazing, if one can get through the rawness of it to its wonderful final pages of accomplishment and success in life, you can see and feel the hope for others struck with mental illness. Good for you David!! Carry on with your amazing new life. There is still so much to live and hope for!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shin Yu

    Reminiscent of "Million Little Pieces" in its narrative of substance abuse, self-loathing, illness, and recovery. The descriptions of manic episodes and the accompanying drawings, presumably from the author's notebooks, were difficult at times to read and look at. Fitzpatrick weaves together reflections on his youth and young adult life - traumatic events and incidents of abuse - which may have set up the author's downward spiral. I'm reminded also of a documentary film on musician Daniel Johnst Reminiscent of "Million Little Pieces" in its narrative of substance abuse, self-loathing, illness, and recovery. The descriptions of manic episodes and the accompanying drawings, presumably from the author's notebooks, were difficult at times to read and look at. Fitzpatrick weaves together reflections on his youth and young adult life - traumatic events and incidents of abuse - which may have set up the author's downward spiral. I'm reminded also of a documentary film on musician Daniel Johnston's life - a bright young man who goes over the edge when he starts using drugs excessively. The book documents several episodes of hospitalization and the narrator's interactions with mental health care providers and other patients, and their ongoing compassion and support towards the author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    A.J. O'Connell

    "Sharp" is a very apt title for David Fitzpatrick's debut. While the memoir is about cutting and self-harm, and Fitzpatrick's relationship with sharp objects, the work itself is sharp. Fitzpatrick draws precise portraits of everyone he meets during his quest to be well; he profiles his family members, ex-girlfriends, doctors, fellow patients on the wards he lives in, and even his tormentors. His insight into others is almost as compelling as the story he tells about himself and his life with men "Sharp" is a very apt title for David Fitzpatrick's debut. While the memoir is about cutting and self-harm, and Fitzpatrick's relationship with sharp objects, the work itself is sharp. Fitzpatrick draws precise portraits of everyone he meets during his quest to be well; he profiles his family members, ex-girlfriends, doctors, fellow patients on the wards he lives in, and even his tormentors. His insight into others is almost as compelling as the story he tells about himself and his life with mental illness. "Sharp" can be disturbing and graphic at times, but I think that's important to the story that's being told. This is not an easy read, but it's a worthwhile read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    I like what David Fitzpatrick has to say regarding his book: "I'd say the line for this tale is 'Hang the hell in there.' Stick the whole ride out, even when everything seems horrific and destroyed. People are out there who can assist, and life, a truly good life, is a real possibility." He further comments: "For those still struggling with mental illness, I have no easy answers. Hang on--try to surround yourself with the best psychiatrist and therapist you can find...Don't ever give up. People I like what David Fitzpatrick has to say regarding his book: "I'd say the line for this tale is 'Hang the hell in there.' Stick the whole ride out, even when everything seems horrific and destroyed. People are out there who can assist, and life, a truly good life, is a real possibility." He further comments: "For those still struggling with mental illness, I have no easy answers. Hang on--try to surround yourself with the best psychiatrist and therapist you can find...Don't ever give up. People get better." To me, these are powerful words of encouragement and hope. I highly recommend this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    While "Sharp" is a very interesting story in theory, in practice I found it to dip into overwrought melodrama that dulled the impact of the disturbing events. And while the depictions of the author's mental deterioration are fairly well-told, at a certain point I felt like the drain was being circled and until the climax it never really went anywhere. A casualty of sticking to truthful events, I suppose, but there was a lot of meandering and this, coupled with the overheated prose, left the piec While "Sharp" is a very interesting story in theory, in practice I found it to dip into overwrought melodrama that dulled the impact of the disturbing events. And while the depictions of the author's mental deterioration are fairly well-told, at a certain point I felt like the drain was being circled and until the climax it never really went anywhere. A casualty of sticking to truthful events, I suppose, but there was a lot of meandering and this, coupled with the overheated prose, left the piece feeling more like a cheesy self-help book than an honest look at the darkness of someone's psyche. Not a bad book, but not overwhelmingly great, either.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Esther Bradley-detally

    This is from the first page on, a sharp intake of breath, and a holding, holding, waiting to breath. Sharp intensifies honestly, horrendously, and underneath the horror of this one man's struggle, lies courage, sweetness and nobility. Sharp is a reminder to not forget all those who suffer, even perhaps when upon quick glances, all seems well. Sharp, a memoir, offers a compassionate and deeply internal view of mental illness - it's range - those who struggle, and is a book which this reader thing This is from the first page on, a sharp intake of breath, and a holding, holding, waiting to breath. Sharp intensifies honestly, horrendously, and underneath the horror of this one man's struggle, lies courage, sweetness and nobility. Sharp is a reminder to not forget all those who suffer, even perhaps when upon quick glances, all seems well. Sharp, a memoir, offers a compassionate and deeply internal view of mental illness - it's range - those who struggle, and is a book which this reader things must be read.

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