Great Reedsy Review for Author Afarin Majidi
The Californer/10120753

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LOS ANGELES - Californer -- Writing and Madness in a Time of Terror is  wholly entertaining, disturbing and fascinating. It was like walking through a series of dark poems.

While Majidi's childhood is wrought with sadness and unimaginable losses, like her family having to escape Iran at the onset of the Islamic Revolution, Majidi is never sentimental, not even when her cousin is murdered because he's Iranian. Not even after she's raped. We're given details, all except her feelings, which she explains as numbness. Her candor and understatement make her story even more powerful.

Alex is the only man out of a string of exes who seems to have mattered to her and in the memoir. Because she's not Jewish, his family not only forbids him to marry her but they begin pressuring him into dates with Jewish girls. After the break-up, Majidi enters one abusive relationship after the next, with men who seem to find pleasure in physically and sexually hurting her. It's frustrating as a reader to watch her make the same mistakes repeatedly, but this is what battered women do; they keep going back or they find another abuser (or the abuser finds them).

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This memoir made me think about what's considered art and what's considered madness, especially in relation to her professor, James Lasdun, who exploited, to say the least. But why is he considered an artist for exploiting her after she was raped, and she's considered a stalker for writing about him? And why did he not help her when he saw that she was sick? Why is it acceptable to be so cold?

If you enter Majidi's world when she's in a manic episode, you can see there is some sense in her madness. It's as if she is going through her days explicating one frightening poem after another instead of dealing with the trauma and abandonment she's experienced. Sometimes it feels as if she's deciphering mystical signs that others can't see. And if you follow the unreasonable logic of her thinking, the whole situation does become a frightening metaphor for what's happening in the world. She also begins to hallucinate shortly after she's drugged and raped. Getting roofied is nothing new, and it has long been a problem, one that results in many deaths. It was just shocking to learn that it's a problem in the publishing industry. It seems like the #MeToo movement has yet to crack the magazine and book world.

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Yes, Majidi is yet another talented person with bipolar disorder. There is still so much stigma about bipolar disorder and other psychological disorders but Majidi throws caution to the wind and takes us through an experiential ride to show us what it's like to be trapped in a bell jar.

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