by Alexis Hall
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Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.
Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.
But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?
WARNING : This is a very personal review. Please don’t bother if you can’t stand those. Thank you.
I’ve been in Niall’s place. It’s not pretty. The kind of ugly that would make hate yourself if you weren’t that goddamn pissed. I’ve read so many beautiful and heartbreaking reviews of Glitterland that I started writing something along the lines of, no matter how hard I’ve been trying to find the words, they escape me.
Liar. I’m a freaking LIAR.
The words are there, they’re cutting through me, such ugly, ugly things. I’ve read my fair share of books about depression, whether they were idiotic romanticizing of it or heartbreaking journeys, but there’s something so important that nobody ever tells you. Nobody tells you how fucking angry you’d be if you had to witness someone you care about slowly burying himself. No. You read about how to be supportive, how to help, and everything sounds so fucking easy.
You don’t read about how worthless it makes you feel when your love is not enough.
You don’t read about the rage you can’t avoid when other people show understanding and you realize that you can’t, you can’t, you can’t anymore.
You’re a loveless, selfish shell.
You’re so ashamed because really, why can’t you do more, stand more, bear more puddles of blood, plaster on a smile and say that everything’s gonna be okay?
Are you so stripped of hope that you cannot see past this very moment, this 3am phone call that you know – you know – you have to answer no matter what?
Oh, yes. Yes you are. You’re just a fucking human being whose guilt is eating at every pore of itself, whose words are meaningless and worthless. Nobody wants to hear you, and you don’t want to hear you, because you don’t have a problem you don’t have a problem you don’t have a problem. That fucking guilt, though. Can’t you be any more selfish? You don’t own the right to cry, just to be strong.
Even now, years after, knowing she’s okay, writing this makes me want to curl up in a corner and shedding angry tears. Even now, I’m still afraid that my words will be misunderstood, a comforting, understanding smile ready to erase them. I’m still afraid of being judged.
But it took me years to realize that I was just human and that I didn’t deserve to be yelled at for that. It took me years to realize that she didn’t blame me for it and that no, I didn’t blame her, of course, but was just so fucking tired and scared. She knows I love her, and always will.
Fear will do that to you.
I refuse to hide behind my fears anymore.
If I cannot, and will never really understand what depression is, not because of a lack of empathy, but because witnessing it doesn’t mean understanding it, even if you want to, rare are the times when I read a book that captures the core of it and manages to make me approach understanding.
Glitterland is one of these books. That heartbreaking, beautiful book.
I will cherish it forever.