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Search tags: madness
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review 2018-01-10 16:45
Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott
Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love - Zack McDermott

This is a fantastic memoir by a public defender with bipolar disorder, who occasionally experiences intense psychotic episodes. Zack McDermott is an excellent storyteller and onetime aspiring comedian, so this book will pull you right in, keep you rapt and sometimes make you laugh, despite its sometimes heavy subject matter.

The beginning of the book throws readers right into McDermott’s first psychotic episode: having met with a producer about his comedy routine only a few days before, he walks out of his apartment convinced that he is in the middle of an audition. He wanders New York City for hours, acting wacky for the cameras, until the police pick him up and take him to the hospital. Over the next couple of years, he’s hospitalized several times, struggling but eventually learning how to keep his disease under control. He is supported throughout by his mom “the Bird,” a rock star teacher of underprivileged teens who is there for her kid no matter what. The book also traces McDermott’s childhood – growing up poor in Kansas City with a single mom putting herself through school – and includes a fair bit about his work as a public defender. (I enjoyed those bits a lot; they are as no-holds-barred as the rest of the book.)

McDermott would probably make an excellent novelist, because he turns his life into a compelling story, with humor and sharp dialogue alongside a gripping plot. I read it very quickly, and it’s one of those books that’s hard to review in part because when I return to look at something in the book, I start reading it again. It seems to me that, despite some dark subject matter, the author chose to put an optimistic spin on his life in the book; an essay published the same week includes some of the same material but also discusses trauma that’s absent from the memoir. It seems like the book’s happy ending is true as far as it goes, but also isn’t the whole story. Probably no memoir is.

At any rate, it’s an excellent book. And without ever appearing to have an agenda (the author seems more upset about the way poor people of color are treated in the criminal justice system than anything that happens to him), the book challenges the stigma around mental illness, as well as the notion that a serious mental illness will inevitably ruin someone’s life or end in tragedy. I definitely recommend this one.

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review 2017-10-30 17:21
At the Mountains of Madness / H.P. Lovecraft
At the Mountains of Madness and Other Works of Weird Fiction - H.P. Lovecraft,D.M. Mitchell

I read this book to fill the ‘Monsters’ square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo card.

I’ve read a few accounts of Antarctic exploration and At the Mountains of Madness starts out in exactly the same style, but then it veers dramatically off course--the tale becomes an H. Rider Haggard adventure novel crossed with a cheesy horror movie! Lovecraft is very skillful at making the readers use their imaginations—he doesn’t describe the horrors experienced by the men of the expedition. Instead, he shows us a destroyed campsite and lets the expedition leader tippy-toe around the ancient ruins, jumping at every sound. There is a lot of hinting and alluding to mysterious writings, rather than descriptions of actual creatures, which would have become silly quite quickly. Much better to let each reader’s mind fill in the details that they would find the most horrifying.

It has taken me a long time to get around to reading Lovecraft, probably because I’m not much of a horror reader. If you are going to read any significant amount in this genre, a basic knowledge of Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos will stand you in good stead. I now realize that I have been missing allusions to his work in a number of short story collections that I’ve read in the past.

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review 2017-09-19 01:06
Fun little series
Madness in Christmas River: A Christmas Cozy Mystery (Christmas River Cozy) - Meg Muldoon

Cinnamon Peters runs a pie shop and is getting hitched to the sheriff during the Christmas season. Not really a great time in a place called Christmas River where they really do up Christmas, then Daniel has to go back to California to help with a case.

 

While he was gone all sorts of things happen. Cinnamon's cousin goes missing, her car gets vandalized and her dog hurt. Her ex is in town causing problems and it's a lot for her to handle. She has to figure out what is going on before something worse happens. 

 

I like Cinnamon and some of the regulars around Christmas River. Though it was short it still had a pretty good mystery. I was pretty sure I knew who might be in on things but I wasn't sure why until it clicked at the end. :) 

 

It's a short cozy read/listen which is what I needed in between a couple of longer listens. 

 

I have really enjoyed the narration of Randye Kaye. She does a good job with the voices.

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text 2017-08-26 01:11
Hurricanes and Nervous Energy

Well Harvey is breathing hot and heavy down my neck, it's just grown to a level 4 hurricane. I've been cutting plants down all day, to save what I can. I couldn't let some of the herbs go unused, not my lemon verbena, my basil, my sage....I am making jellies, lots and lots. The first batch is done, lemon verbena, Yums. I have a huge tub of tea too. I'll be canning as long as I have electricity. I'm too nervous to read, or sit. 

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text 2017-08-13 05:04
Reading progress update: I've read 16 out of 276 pages.
The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder - Charles Graeber

A lovely true crime read for my lunch break. It's okay so far, curious to see when the crimes start. This guy definitely reads like a serial killer. 

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