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Scattershot: My Bipolar Familyby David Lovelace
Synopses & Reviews
The Glass Castle meets An Unquiet Mind in a mesmerizing, loving memoir about growing up in a family plagued by bipolar disorder.
Four out of the five people in poet David Lovelace's immediate family have experienced bipolar disorder — including David himself. His relationship with the disease began with his artist mother's severe depressions during his boyhood in the 1960s and continued through decades of his preacher father's increasingly eccentric behavior. The family's battle with the disorder reached its apex in 1986, the year that his father, his brother, and David himself were all committed in quick succession. Only his sister has escaped unscathed.
Scattershot is Lovelace's poignant, humorous, and vivid account of the disease's effects on his family, and his gripping exploits as he spent his life running from — and finally learning to embrace — the madness imprinted on his genes. Scattershot explores the powerful connections between fundamentalist religious belief and mental illness, illuminated by David's strange and fantastic childhood in church camps and parish residences.
A coming-of-age story punctuated by a series of truly harrowing experiences, this devastating and empathetic portrait of the Lovelace family strips away the shame associated with bipolar disorder and celebrates the profound creative gifts that come with it.
"As a twenty-something in the 1980s, Lovelace discovered that he had bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression), a shattering mental illness shared by both his parents and, they would find later, his younger brother. Growing up, his parents went largely undiagnosed — his mother's initial breakdown was in 1949, the days when 'psychiatrists diagnosed almost all delusional illness as schizophrenia,' and the only treatment was electroshock. Members of his family spent years in deep, undiagnosed suffering, largely from depression ('Denial wasn't difficult, not yet. No one in my family had experienced mania'), and Lovelace spent years running from his illness through Mexico, South America and later to New York, accompanied by drugs and alcohol: 'I've denied my own illness and I've loved it almost to death.' Lovelace's poetic prose is both matter-of-fact and haunted, capturing the unpredictable rhythms of mental illness: 'Alone in the bathroom I made a smile in the mirror and it strangled my eyes.' Readers will get a real sense of the interior world of a single patient, and a family, on the verge of a mental breakdown." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"No one in the family lacks love for one another, and that's what makes this story so poignant." Library Journal
"When Lovelace chronicles a manic episode, the prose comes in breathless, eloquent bursts; when he describes crushing depression, it's as though all the air is being sucked out of the room. Compelling, charming and devastating." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
David Lovelace is a writer, carpenter, and former owner of the Montague Bookmill, a bookstore near Amherst, Massachusetts. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has won mention in Patterson Review's Allen Ginsberg Award.
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