Liar: A Memoir
By: Rob Roberge
When Rob Roberge learns that he’s likely to have developed a progressive memory-eroding disease from years of hard living and frequent concussions, he is terrified by the prospect of becoming a walking shadow. In a desperate attempt to preserve his identity, he sets out to (somewhat faithfully) record the most formative moments of his life—ranging from the brutal murder of his childhood girlfriend, to a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, to opening for famed indie band Yo La Tengo at The Fillmore in San Francisco. But the process of trying to remember his past only exposes just how fragile the stories that lay at the heart of our self-conception really are. Via Amazon’s summary
Author, instructor, musician, husband, and addict – Rob Roberge has done a lot in his lifetime. When his years of hard living and mental illness combine to cause a degenerative memory issue, he sets out to keep the pieces of himself together by writing out his memoir. This is a gritty, fast paced, and sometimes frightening look at the role addiction and mental health play in life.
Rob Roberge’s writing is fast paced and connected in the most seemingly random ways. The beginning is incredibly abrupt and the formatting confusing at times, which means its doing exactly what the author meant for it to do: thrust the reader into the mind of an addict and Bi-Polar. The swings of mania, the switches in years and topics, everything connects with a thin and winding thread of incredible logic. It grabs at your mind and your gut, causing reactions and trains of thought that you, as the reader, just won’t be expecting at the beginning of this journey. The writing is beautiful and scary and completely perfect.
In a memoir you might not expect to meet a large cast of characters. However, having led a life of almost gypsy like movement so that we get at least a working knowledge of at least half a dozen important, non familial (in the strictest sense of the word anyway) players from Rob’s lifespan. Most of these will be women, a few will idiots, even fewer will be part of the late 2000s…but they all have a huge impact on both author and audience.
I went in to this book on the recommendation of a good friend and was skeptical, to say the least. Of the non-fiction books currently sitting on my TBR 3 are scientists in graphic novel form, 1 is the autobiography of an actor/magician, and 1 is the story of a ballerina…none of them are especially pertaining to mental illness, addiction, excessive pain, sexual deviance, etc. etc. etc. I don’t typically even try to pick up things of that nature. However, she was right. This book was definitely worth the read. Though very raw and sometimes difficult to read, the formatting added to the overall feel of the book in such a way as to make me feel as though I was actually inside Mr. Roberge’s head as opposed the linear factual read most memoirs provide.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to know, and possibly understand, more of what it feels like to be an addict or have Bi-Polar disease. The manic feel of the book lends itself to providing that feel for its readers. HOWEVER – if you have a problem with large amounts of foul language, sex, and drugs please, PLEASE, refrain from picking this up. You will be offended.
I give this a whopping overall score of 4.5 out of 5 manic dragons.