Hurry Down Sunshine tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg s daughter was struck mad. It begins with Sally s visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continues, among other places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city s most sweltering months. "I feel like I m traveling and traveling with nowhere to go back to," Sally says in a burst of lucidity while hurtling away toward some place her father could not dream of or imagine. Hurry Down Sunshine is the chronicle of that journey, and its effect on Sally and those closest to her her brother and grandmother, her mother and stepmother, and, not least of all, the author himself. Among Greenberg s unforgettable gallery of characters are an unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish patient, a manic classics professor, a movie producer, and a landlord with literary dreams. Unsentimental, nuanced, and deeply humane, Hurry Down Sunshine holds the reader in a mesmerizing state of suspension between the mundane and the transcendent.
If your average health insurance policy is to be believed, mental illness is hardly worth noting: 20 visits or less; a few pills. Either that or it is too monumentally thoroughgoing to be dealt with in any actuarial manner and is thus best left unmentioned. Let those who have it face it as they may.
Writers face it, of course, by writing about it. Since Robert Burton's 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy, the library of mental affliction has grown large, especially of late: there is William Styron's Darkness Visible; Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon; An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison; Blue Genes by Christopher Lukas. Right on the latter's heels now comes Hurry Down Sunshine, the Times Literary Supplement columnist Michael Greenberg's visceral recounting of the summer of 1996, when his teenage daughter, Sally, was suddenly overtaken by manic-depression.