THE CLIFF'S EDGE by Marie Hackett


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Paul Hackett's record of the purgatory of a broken mind- The Cardboard Giants- appeared in 1952 and was a rather undisciplined catharsis of his personal history and mental illness. This, his wife's story of his breakdown, may have something of the potential of Karen- in the young and personal contact it establishes with the reader, in Marie's frightened but determined endurance through many months of extreme tension, and in her abiding love for her husband and faith that he would get well. Married in Boston while he was still a law student, she was kept busy by three children- in rapid succession- and did not fully recognize his instability, his hidden life and criminal involvements, his strange outbursts- until they moved to New Jersey and she was forced to consult a doctor. He was immediately committed- and she faced the verdict of paranoid schizophrenia- with homicidal tendencies. This is the account of what she faced alone- and on occasional weekends when he came home; of constant financial difficulties; of the time when her youngest almost died; of the social stigma often directed against her little girls; and finally, with his release, of the difficulty of finding a job (he finally got one as a grave digger) and the completion of his book which took them on to a new home, in Riverdale, and a new life.... A story which has no literary virtues beyond its ingenuous but genuine sincerity- this is holding reading and should take many of our uneasy aversions to mental health out of the attic and into the public domain.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1954
Publisher: McGraw-Hill