Synopses & Reviews
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his remarkable story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling as a pediatrician, and learning that willpower isn’t nearly enough.
Here is Mark’s childhood spent as the son of a struggling writer in a house that eventually held seven children after his aunt and uncle died and left four orphans. And here is the world after Mark was released from a mental hospital to find his family forever altered. At the late age of twenty-eight—and after nineteen rejections—Mark was accepted to Harvard Medical School, where he gained purpose, a life, and some control over his condition.
The brilliantly evoked events of Mark Vonnegut’s life are at once perfectly unique and achingly relatable. There are the manic episodes, during which he felt burdened with saving the world, juxtaposed against the real-world responsibilities of running a pediatric practice. At times he felt that his parents’ lives would improve if only they had a few hundred more bucks in their bank account, while at other points his father’s fame merely heightened expectations that he be better, funnier (and crazier) than the average person.
Ultimately a tribute to the small, daily, and positive parts of a life interrupted by bipolar disorder, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is a wise, unsentimental, and inspiring book that will resonate with generations of readers.
"Two not unrelated challenges--being novelist Kurt Vonnegut's son and suffering episodes of schizophrenia--shape, but don't confine, this mordantly witty, slightly subversive memoir. Vonnegut (The Eden Express) weathered a scruffy childhood with his as yet obscure dad ('I'll always remember my father as the world's worst car salesman') and was hospitalized for three bouts of psychosis in his 20s. He recovered and went on to Harvard Medical School and a successful career in pediatrics--then a fourth psychotic break upended him 14 years after the first one. (Taken to the hospital where he worked, he found himself greeting colleagues while tied to a gurney.) Vonnegut vividly conveys the bizarre logic of the voices and delusions that occasionally plagued him, which he finds not much nuttier than what passes for normalcy. (He's especially incensed by the insurance bureaucracies he thinks are ruining medicine.) His father's son, he writes with a matter-of-fact absurdism--'The patient who just died lies there quietly and everyone else stops rushing around trying to do something about it'--champions misfits, and attacks the system. All his own are Vonnegut's hard-won insights into the value of a humble, useful life picked up from pieces. Photos. (Sept. 28)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Vonnegut recalls the past 35 years of his life--from Harvard Medical School and a brilliant pediatrics career to the terrifying return of mental illness--while also reflecting on his unique New England childhood as the only son of a not-yet-famous Kurt Vonnegut.
About the Author
Mark Vonnegut is the only son of the late Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Cox Vonnegut and the author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, an ALA Notable Book. A full-time practicing pediatrician, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son.