Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ned Vizzini, It's Kind Of A Funny Story





I was excited and anxious to get my hands on this book because of the subject matter. It's Kind of a Funny Story is about a teenager who is depressed and suicidal and checks himself into the hospital.

The novel spans the five days Craig, the narrator, is in the psychiatric unit. It's very well written and at times, funny. I’ve suffered from depression for a long time and there are moments when I feel like I’m the only one who knows what its like to experience the cycle of feeling sad and distressed. Me -and maybe Sylvia Plath.

I think this is going to be an important novel to thousands of both teens and adults. I can imagine Oprah doing a show on teen depression and referencing this book. It was a really good read, fast paced and I couldn't put it down.

The story was based on your own experience in a psychiatric ward. Why did you make Craig fifteen years old rather than a guy in his twenties?

I enjoy writing about high school because it's such a primal arena for human conflict. But there's another reason that I made Craig fifteen instead of 23, the age I was when I entered the hospital. It's because these days, fifteen-year-olds face the pressures that I faced at 23. Their academic environment has turned into a college-industrial complex with kids competing to get into the right preschool, let alone the right after-school internship.

The ability of Myspace to make instant, small-scale celebrities has led to many people expecting a fan base when they leave high school. If you slip, as Craig does, you can quickly fall into hopelessness, as if you'd lost a career in your 20s.


What were you like as a teenager? And how have you changed since then?

As a teenager, I thought I had problems, but I had no idea. I thought that not being able to get a girlfriend was the be-all and end-all of human difficulty. I was also frenetic, constantly coming up with projects, writing, starting websites, pursuing anything that interested me. As I've aged, I've encountered much bigger problems, and I've become a lot more plodding. I'd like to think I've become wiser as well, and I'm working towards being the man I'm supposed to be, but sometimes I'm not so sure. Jeez. This is like therapy.

How much of the story was true, what did you fictionalize? And why did you choose to base it on your own experiences rather than write a non –fiction account of what you went through?

About 85% of It's Kind of a Funny Story is true. I really did want to kill myself and I really did go to the psych hospital, and I really did have the experiences that Craig has in the book (most of them), and I really did have a moment where I decided that it was better to live. What didn't happen were some of the more salient plot points: the love triangle, especially.

I chose to fictionalize so that I could add those elements without lying about myself. I also wanted Craig to be younger than me, so that I could add in some 20-something insights about being a teenager. Maybe when I'm 30 I'll have insights about my 20s.


What kind of music do you listen to when you write, if any?

When I write, I like to listen to music with long songs so that a song hasn't ended and I've written a few sentences. That means jazz--Miles Davis--and also opera. But I still go back to Weezer and Nirvana from time to time. These days one of my favorite bands is a country act from Brooklyn called the Useless Bastards.

The last page of the book is really good, it's powerful and positive and we really feel like Craig is going to pull himself together. Have you re-read the novel since it was published? If you did, what do you think?

I haven't re-read It's Kind of a Funny Story since it was published, but I read it over a number of times for editing, and I do like the ending. I like it especially because I really did have a moment like that, a moment where I decided to live. Unfortunately it hasn't been all gravy from that point on--sometimes, it's been very difficult.

I have the book around and I do hope that I can turn to it sometime in the future to give me help when I'm feeling depressed. That's really what it's there for--to help people and to tell a story and to show you that no matter how bad your life is, there's humor in it and there's life in that humor.


25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I love Ned. He is so real. *hugz him* @ 3:59 PM  
Blogger Brolley said...
Finished this book today and was sad that it was over. Very well written, and easily-relateable story. At some points I even laughed outloud @ 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey Ned,
I enjoyed your book a lot, especially the ending. It made me let go of some of the stress i had and it felt great. Nobody will ever have a perfect life, and that's just how it is. So enjoy everyday as it comes, and LIVE!! @ 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey Ned,
I really liked your book it made me stop and think and decide not to kill myself sso i told a friend and then went to a ccis(childrens crisis intervention service) and you gave me hope that i could get better @ 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Lizzette said...
Hey Ned,
Man, I love that book!!!!
I know itz based on a based on a boys P.O.V.
but, itz rrly helped me alot.

there so aren't enough books in the world like this one. @ 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great book. It would be one of the saddest books i ever read if it wasn't so funny. @ 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
This book made me cry a bit.
Wonderfully written though. @ 1:37 AM  
Blogger T said...
This is a great book! i loved it and normally i dont like reading but i lovedddd this one...your a great writer!

<3 Taylor @ 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
screw all of u go get a life and stop bitching about all your shit all the time @ 1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm annoyed with the last comment....if you have nothing of importance then just piss off, k? This book has helped so many people who feel they can relate. It helped me understand my dad more and why he did what he did. So don't tell us to stop talking about our shit cuz talking helps us all get through it. If you don't like it, you can fucking leave. @ 8:47 PM  
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