Spasm - A Memoir With Lies by Lauren Slater (Methuen, £6.99 in UK)


This is a book written strictly for kicks. Money too, of course. The writing is sharp, witty and spare but it is neither fact nor fiction and so you feel hopelessly out of it most of the time. Lauren Slater came to prominence with Prozac Diary, a powerful account of coping with illness of the mind, melancholia - and occasional drifts into madness.

This is a discourse on growing up with epilepsy - or maybe not having it at all. As a young teenager, she suffered seizures. This bit is possibly true. At 17, neurosurgery gave her relief, but her mental response was unchanged and she continued to lie and invent in order to fill the less than arresting gaps in her memory. "I have epilepsy. Or I feel I have epilepsy. Or I wish I had epilepsy . . . "

The main protagonist, herself, emerges as self-centred, daft, a trifle excessive. "Sometimes, I don't even know why the facts should matter. I often disregard them, and even when I mean to get them right, I don't. I can't. Still, I like to write about me." The book is giddy, even racy, and very well-written. But the psychological dilemma posed by Slater between historical and narrative truths is just that tiny bit yawn-inducing. A pity.