Grace MaxwellEbury Press ISBN 9780091929992
Edwyn Collins was the enigmatic front man of Scottish post-punk pop group Orange Juice though he’s possibly even more renowned for his pithy 1994 solo single A Girl Like You.
In 2005, Collins had two brain haemorrhages. The once highly literate singer could no longer read, write, walk or feed himself and could manage only four words: “yes”, “no” and “Grace Maxwell”.
The latter is the name of his partner, manager and now his biographer of sorts. Falling & Laughing recalls Collins’s near encounter with death (the evocative descriptions of intensive care units make for powerful reading) and his subsequent lengthy and gruelling therapies.
Collins once had a job illustrating booklets for nature trails and his rehabilitation has included painstakingly attempting to redevelop his motor and cognitive skills by sketching birds. It culminated in an exhibition and a book, Some British Birds, that was so beautiful it was a privilege to turn its pages.
Falling & Laughing will be many things to many people: it’s (equally) a frustrated rant about the NHS and a joyous celebration of the same service; it’s a potent reminder of the impact of occupation on recovery; it’s a book about the transient nature of good health and a book about a bloke in a pop group; it might provide inspiration; and it could even be interpreted as a beautiful love story.
David Hemingway writes for XLR8R magazine and is a community mental health worker
This review is published in the 15 October issue of Community Care