Pin It

Bitter Medicine 

Clem Martini and Olivier Martini (Freehand)

Two of Clem Martini's brothers have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. One is Ben, the youngest. The other is Olivier, or Liv, an artist. He illustrates this graphic memoir with a subtle hand. Spend time following the lines in his black ink drawings and his short, considered captions. This is his side in a long conversation, spanning some 30 years, with his brother Clem, a Calgary playwright. They revisit the early onset, the behavioural manifestations, diagnosis, deinstitutionalization and other detours and dead-ends in the health care system, drug effects (good and bad) and suicide: this latter subject is approached head-on and with heads on straight. There's no fixation on how it's done, but rather, and most importantly, how a life arrives at that breaking point and what simple preventative methods (two brothers routinely walking and talking together, for one) may help. These guys speak honestly to each other and about the others in their lives. Clem describes their father as a "short, bald, rather formal man who regretted every decision he'd ever made." That includes coming to Canada. Liv responds with a portrait of their father sitting, elbows on knees. The caption reads: "My Dad was an unhappy man. Tout est perdu au Canada." Much is lost because of mental illness. With books like Bitter Medicine, much is gained.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sean Flinn

Get more Halifax

Our Thursday email gets you caught up with The Coast. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.

Coast Top Ten

Real Time Web Analytics

© 2021 Coast Publishing Ltd.