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In 1976, Ben Martini was diagnosed with schizophrenia. A decade later, his brother Olivier was told he had the same disease. For the past thirty years the Martini family has struggled to comprehend and cope with a devastating illness, frustrated by a health care system lacking in resources and empathy, the imperfect science of medication, and the strain of mental illness on familial relationships.
Throughout it all, Olivier, an accomplished visual artist, drew. His sketches, comic strips, and portraits document his experience with, and capture the essence of, this all too frequently misunderstood disease. In Bitter Medicine, Olivier's poignant graphic narrative runs alongside and communicates with a written account of the past three decades by his younger brother, award-winning author and playwright Clem Martini. The result is a layered family memoir that faces head-on the stigma attached to mental illness.
Shot through with wry humour and unapologetic in its politics, Bitter Medicine is the story of the Martini family, a polemical and poetic portrait of illness, and a vital and timely call for action.
"This is a rare and powerful book. It gives the meaning of love without talking of love. It is both heartbreaking and truly victorious. It tells us clearly that mental illness is a dimension of 'normal' the way that shadow is a dimension of light. And we should walk with our shadows." – Dragan Todorovic, author of The Book of Revenge
Clem Martini is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and novelist based in Calgary, Alberta. His popular trilogy for young adults, The Crow Chronicles, has been distributed widely and translated into six languages. His textbook on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, is used in classes at universities and colleges across the country and he presently chairs the Department of Drama at the University of Calgary.
Olivier Martini is a former student of the Alberta College of Arts who lives and works in Calgary. He generates visual artwork in a variety of forms. His sketches, paintings, and prints have been displayed at the Marion McGrath Gallery, published in Alberta Views magazine, and were included as part of the Canadian Mental Health's Copernicus Project.
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2010 • 264pp • Paperback • 9781551119281 / 1551119285