Simon, Clea 1961-
SIMON, Clea 1961-
PERSONAL: Born July 27, 1961, in NY; married Jon S. Garelick (a journalist). Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1983.
CAREER: Author and journalist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Association for the Mentally Ill book of the year, 1997, for Mad House.
Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1997.
Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads, Wiley (New York, NY), 2001.
The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection between Women and Cats, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of articles to the New York Times, Boston Phoenix, Ms. Magazine, Salon.com and Boston Globe. Columnist for Boston Globe.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A mystery series featuring a cat-loving amateur detective.
SIDELIGHTS: Clea Simon, the author of three books, is also a journalist in both print and electronic media. She writes a regular column for the Boston Globe on the subject of New England radio titled "Radio Tracks". Early in her career she was an active music critic; more recently her chief areas of interest have become feminism, relationships, and psychology.
Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings was published in 1997. It is the account of the author's own childhood years with her elder siblings, both of whom suffered from schizophrenia. In addition to her personal experience, Simon has, through research and interviews with individuals with similar family histories, identified the shared effects and concerns of these individuals. As a result of her investigation and reflection on her own experience, Simon concludes that the effects are considerable. She framed the experience with these words, quoted in Chicago's Tribune Books: "As siblings who have watched our brothers or sisters 'go mad', who lost our peers to psychosis, we share a unique experience: Our brothers and sisters are the ones we were supposed to have played with, learned to get along with, emulated if they were older or taken care of if they were younger, the people with whom we should have navigated the shoals of growing up. But instead they broke down." The author points out that current research has shown that there is a strong genetic component to schizophrenia. Questions about their own mental stability, as well as concerns about the possibility of passing this condition along to their children are always present issues for siblings of the mentally ill. Simon's research also discovered that the healthy siblings often have a profound mistrust of medication and therapy as tools to relieve the effects of the illness for themselves. Critics have praised the book, noting that Simon has made an important contribution to the understanding of schizophrenia and its effect on families. Included is a list of suggested resources.
Because of a continuing interest in the exploration of relationships, Simon has written Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads. She describes the nature of the father/daughter bond, its development through childhood and into adulthood. The focus of the book is, primarily, on adult women who have lost their fathers. Simon makes the point that more than half of the women in the United States under the age of fifty will lose their fathers, and that this loss will take place long before they lose their mothers. The lives of women who have lost their fathers are thoroughly examined; however, the eighteen-month period after the father's death generally defines the time frame for the book. Kay Brodie, in her review for Library Journal, favorably noted the attention Simon gives to the description of the complex father/daughter relationship. Through the mining of her own experience with paternal loss, interviews and conversations with women, plus research, she describes the alterations that are likely to occur. Changes in relationships with other family members, review of life goals and recognition of the importance of the father/daughter bond, are all common products of the reflection after the father's death. Simon has included a bibliography and a list of recommended books.
The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection between Women and Cats continues the theme of relationships, and adds a feminist critque of culture as well. A reviewer for Booklist named it "an erudite, anthropological discourse on the ageless and enigmatic relationship between females and felines" and concluded that "Simon blends historical, cultural, and literary references with personal observations in an eloquent, unabashed paean."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Behavioral Health Treatment, May, 1997, review of Mad House: Growing up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, p. 6.
Booklist, March 1, 1997, Whitney Scott, review of Mad House, p. 1095.
Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Antoinette Brinkman, review of Mad House, p. 101; September 15, 2001, Kay Brodie, review of Fatherless Women: How We Change after We Lose Our Dads, p. 99.
Publishers Weekly, January 6, 1997, review of Mad House, p. 54.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 27, 1997, Carolyn Alessio, review of Mad House, p. 3.
Clea Simon Home Page,http://www.cleasimon.com (June 18, 2002).
http://Vinland Journal.com Web site, http://www.vinlandjournal.com/ (January 13, 2002).