William Leith was unhappy as a teenager, lived well in his twenties and entered a period of denial in his thirties. At the start of his humorous, refreshingly honest memoir, he is 47 and suffering a midlife crisis. He wakes in his office, which is also his home, as his relationship has broken down. He feels that his body and mind are breaking down, too. He vacillates between despair and "little spiky balls of hope".
He reassesses personal and professional values. Working in LA, the journalist finds himself "prying into the pain of an actress, hoping to find a route to more pain, pain that would be valuable to me". It is his own pain he depicts most effectively, chronicling the loneliness of being a single dad. He is brilliant at depicting his "psychological symptoms" – the sense that his mind isn't working properly; that his thoughts are elusive; that nature has finished with him.
He has a critical detachment from his situation, at one point wondering, for example, if he's becoming like the mad, middle-aged writer in The Shining. Drawing on ideas from physics, culture and literature, Leith probes the mysterious mechanisms which make tiny particles – and people – stick together and fall apart.