A Room With A Darker View: Chronicles of My Mother and Schizophrenia
By Claire Phillips
August 2020. Paperback.
Ebook also available.
$18.95 | 9781733957908 (pb)
$14.99 | 9781733957984 (ebook)
“As heroic as it is original, Claire Phillips’ writing always finds the scary corners that would be secret to any other author, from which inevitably there comes into vision a revelatory perspective. Reading A Room With a Darker View, you won’t shake it from your mind; finishing it, you won’t shake it from your memory.”
– Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville and Shadowbahn
A Room with a Darker View is an unflinching, feminist work chronicling the author’s troubled relationship with her mother, an Oxford-trained lawyer, whose severe illness—marked by manic bouts of laughter, delusions, and florid hallucinations—went unrecognized for decades.
This elegantly written memoir challenges conceptions about mental illness, difficulties caring for an aging parent with a chronic disease, and how we frame contributions by outliers to society. Fragmented vignettes tell the story of undiagnosed mental illness besieging a mother-daughter relationship, using flashbacks to tonally convey the extreme but unfortunately common aspects of schizophrenia.
A Room with a Darker View is part illness narrative, part reflection on shame, ethnicity, and the generation gaps that have defined mother-daughter relationships amid the evolution of feminism in the twentieth century. Only with her mother’s final relapse at age seventy-three did the author begin to tell this story, first in Black Clock, and essay for which she received a Pushcart nomination and notable mention in The Best American Essays 2015.
An engrossing story of identity formation, Phillips ultimately gives us not a confessional memoir but a parable of agency and resilience amid uncertain reality. As a speculative fiction writer whose work is rooted in an encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction, she crafts a tale of time travel, one where past-present-futures collapse into braided familial, personal, and social histories. Throughout the book Phillips illuminates the fierce reality of her mother’s delusions as well as the tools she gives her daughter to survive her.
Short, distilled chapters of quietly tantalizing prose grip us throughout the span of Claire Phillips’ fully realized and haunting story.
–Bruce Bauman, author of And the Word Was and Broken Sleep
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Claire Phillips is the recipient of the American Academy of Poets, First Prize. Her speculative fiction and nonfiction have appeared in legendary Black Clock Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, MotherBoard-Vice, and can be heard on the KQED Writers’ Block and found at viralnet.net. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and given notable mention in The Best American Essays 2015 for her nonfiction writing. She regularly gives lectures and readings in South Carolina, where she is based, including in the famed Sit n’ Spin series on the Comedy Central Stage, for Clockshop and Lit Crawl L.A., along with several MFA visual art technology programs including CalArts, School of Visual Arts and University of California, Irvine. Phillips is co-founder and director of the Los Angeles Writers Reading Series at Glendale College and teaches writing at CalArts, the Southern California Institute for Architecture (SCI-Arc), and at the ArtCenter College of Design. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from New York University, and a BA in English from San Francisco State University.