In Review

Book review: Heavy Light by Horatio Clare

Just two years after he descended into mania, Horatio Clare explains how in a ‘game-changing memoir’ 

Heavy Light by Horatio Clare

This “game-changing memoir” by the nature writer and broadcaster Horatio Clare tells the story of his descent into madness and mania, said Helen Brown in The Daily Telegraph. Clare’s slide started in late 2018, at a time when he was regularly smoking cannabis to help cope with stress and exhaustion. On a family skiing holiday in Innsbruck, he became convinced that he was a “major player in a covert international conflict”, and that the resort was swarming with secret agents. Returning home, his delusions worsened: as “part of a mission to secure global peace”, it was his duty to marry Kylie Minogue – but only after faking his death by driving his Toyota into a Yorkshire reservoir. Clare was eventually sectioned, and was treated in a psychiatric hospital. It is remarkable that a “mind so recently dominated by straight-to-DVD fantasies” is capable, two years later, of writing about them with “such acute self-awareness” – not to mention gentle humour. 

Clare’s account of his breakdown and treatment certainly “rings true”, said Stuart Kelly in The Scotsman. But when, in its second half, the book “morphs from confessional memoir” to a more general discussion of mental health treatment, it becomes less successful. Clare is deeply sceptical that drugs are the answer: he attributes his own recovery not to the aripiprazole he took in hospital, but to his subsequent intensive therapy. Yet he becomes so “strident” in this view that he starts to sound, again, a little manic: as if he were casting himself as the “messianic agent, exposing Big Pharma”. Clare certainly advances a “high-stakes argument”, but he has surely earned the right to his opinion, said Megan Agnew in The Sunday Times. What “a gift” it is for the rest of us, to have “such an articulate agent, reporting back from the far edges of the mind”.

Chatto & Windus 352pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99

Heavy Light by Horatio Clare
The Week Bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

Recommended

The Tragedy of Macbeth: Saoirse Ronan’s ‘spellbinding’ British stage debut
Saoirse Ronan in Macbeth
In Review

The Tragedy of Macbeth: Saoirse Ronan’s ‘spellbinding’ British stage debut

The best films of 2021
Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges in The Last Duel
In Review

The best films of 2021

7Pines Resort Ibiza: hedonistic days are gone, R&R is where it’s at
7Pines Resort Ibiza
The big trip

7Pines Resort Ibiza: hedonistic days are gone, R&R is where it’s at

Succession: the glorious return of the bad, mad Roys
Succession: a ‘toxic joy’
In Review

Succession: the glorious return of the bad, mad Roys

Popular articles

Why does the UK have highest Covid case rate in western Europe?
England lockdown lifted
Today’s big question

Why does the UK have highest Covid case rate in western Europe?

The tally of Covid-19 vaccine deaths examined
Boy receiving Covid vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

The tally of Covid-19 vaccine deaths examined

What is blackfishing?
Shot of Jesy Nelson with her hair in braids
In Depth

What is blackfishing?

The Week Footer Banner