‘This autobiographical novel is therefore not about me, it’s about you.’
The close emotional personal experiences of author Nick Crutchley – many painful – were not easy to write about in this review, never mind for the author. I shall try my best.
I didn’t know what was happening at first, or why, but it was a serious Incident (no spoilers here). The following chapters give us an insight into why it may have happened, but nothing is clear. What I did grasp afterward was that beyond Nick’s initial positive interest in the spiritual and fantasy there’s a lot of pressure on him, evoking great sadness. My interpretation of Deadweight early on was that trouble in family and in teenage friendships/relationships may have had an impact on the Incident, but it’s difficult to be certain.
We move on, and though Nick is often with friends his isolation grows, like a fracturing away. I noticed fewer new positive friendships were mentioned later on, and it’s more awkward with those he already has. I’m unsure how I felt about this fracturing away when reading. As far as I know, there were elements of a few mental illnesses involved. And Nick sought a solution to his problems himself. There was a memorable point in the book after the Incident when he said, ‘the deadweight compresses memories and feelings as I realise no one will ever listen’.
What’s it about?
It’s an autobiography about serious mental illness, pressure, betrayal, friendship, desperation, and hope. To elaborate, Deadweight is author Nick Crutchley’s journey from teenage years to adulthood, covering his friendships, his experiences, and his hard times.
The subject matter is serious, yet I found the delivery addictive as we dive into personalities and situations that move the ‘protagonist’ forward, and so to me it reads like interwoven short stories, with some characters reappearing or getting mentioned again and others fading into obscurity without conclusion; that’s life, I suppose. Part II held most of my attention, being focused on strong bonds and revolving around a spiritual game. In the way it was written I foresaw two possibilities occurring, and one did.
What did it remind me of?
Initially I thought – not being a big autobiography reader – that Deadweight dives into personal experiences in vivid detail that reminded me of Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham. Soon I realised it was not like anything I had read, unlike a fiction story with a beginning-middle-end structure, and compressed with lots of subtle hidden meanings; with a magical, spiritual, and conspiratorial edge.
Is there something to learn from Deadweight?
I think there is. The following thoughts are my own conclusions. I gathered that the author grew up in a time when mental illness was less understood and accepted. When communication with family fails, and when friendships fail and become more distant, there is no support. There is no open channel of communication with those you do know, and none from any external provider. You’re treated as if you have a disease, left alone to find your own solution, and I think this must make things worse. The aim of Deadweight is to promote a more compassionate society, and I think it certainly does this by showing what happens when there is no compassion. A reader only displays a smidgen of the author’s bravery: the author who recorded his close, personal, and painful experiences to the public to help others. It brings a tear to my eye.
Free Kindle Codes
Fantastic news for readers: I’ve available one US Kindle code and one UK Kindle code of Deadweight by Nick Crutchley. The first two readers to comment on this post will be sent the link to their email address.