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Review-Jan Wong’s “Out of the Blue”

Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption, and Yes, Happiness
By Jan Wong
Jan Wong, 2012

Reviewed by Jane Campbell

“Depression does not change who you are,” writes Jan Wong in her new memoir Out of the Blue, “it sits like a cloud over your original personality.” Certainly Wong, the intrepid and controversial Canadian journalist known for living in China during the Cultural Revolution and sneaking box cutters through post 9/11 security, among other things, retains her reporter’s dedication to exposing injustice, even as the cloud of depression casts a shadow over her life.

As Wong points out, writers seem to be particularly vulnerable to depression, and Out of the Blue is one among a whole pantheon of memoirs detailing mental illness, from William Styron’s Darkness Visible to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Wong manages to make a unique contribution to this literary sub-genre by exploring what she calls “workplace depression,” or depression brought about and exacerbated by the particular indignities and stressors of the contemporary North American working environment. Continue reading Review-Jan Wong’s “Out of the Blue”


The Chairs Are Where People Go: How To Live, Work, and Play in the City
By Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti
Faber and Faber 

Reviewed by Cara Woodruff

Excerpt to be featured in PRISM international 50:1

“There’s a thoughtlessness in how people consider their audience that’s reflected in how they set up chairs […] you have to think about where you put your chairs.” Sheila Heti’s collaboration with her close friend Misha Glouberman contains 72 kitchen table chats, though Heti absents herself after the introduction. As she says, she’d always wanted to write a book about him “in all his specificity.” Raconteur and polymath, Glouberman talks life like your wisest, kindest and funniest friend channeling your eccentric uncle. Intimate and engaging, Glouberman’s thoughts run from philosophy, attending Harvard, theatre with homeless people, experimental music classes, charades and improv workshops to dealing with city councils. It sounds aimless but it’s not. It’s about interacting with people in an authentic and respectful and playful way. And his voice is engaging and the prose clean. Continue reading REVIEW: THE CHAIRS ARE WHERE THE PEOPLE GO