Synopses & Reviews
The story of a young man fighting to recover from a devastating psychotic break and the mother who refuses to give up on him
25-year-old Zack McDermott wakes up one morning convinced he is being filmed, Truman Show-style, for a TV pilot. After a manic spree around Manhattan, Zack, who is bipolar, is arrested and admitted to Bellevue Hospital.
So begins Zack's freefall into psychosis and his desperate, poignant, often darkly funny struggle to claw his way back to sanity. His co-pilot on this journey - which will land him in prison-like mental wards and take him back to his Kansas roots - is his tough, big-hearted Midwestern mother, nicknamed the Bird, whose fierce and steadfast love might be the one thing that can help Zack find his way back to himself.
Written with raw honesty, humor, and tenderness, GORILLA AND THE BIRD is a bravely honest account of a young man's unraveling and the relationship that saves him.
Glorious...one of the best memoirs I've read in years...a tragicomic gem about family, class, race, justice, and the spectacular weirdness of Wichita. McDermott] can move from barely controlled hilarity to the brink of rage to aching tenderness in a single breath. -- Marya Hornbacher, New York Times Book Review
Zack McDermott, a 26-year-old Brooklyn public defender, woke up one morning convinced he was being filmed, Truman Show-style, as part of an audition for a TV pilot. Every passerby was an actor; every car would magically stop for him; everything he saw was a cue from The Producer to help inspire the performance of a lifetime. After a manic spree around Manhattan, Zack, who is bipolar, was arrested on a subway platform and admitted to Bellevue Hospital.
So begins the story of Zack's freefall into psychosis and his desperate, poignant, often hilarious struggle to claw his way back to sanity. It's a journey that will take him from New York City back to his Kansas roots and to the one person who might be able to save him, his tough, big-hearted Midwestern mother, nicknamed the Bird, whose fierce and steadfast love is the light in Zack's dark world.
Before his odyssey is over, Zack will be tackled by guards in mental wards, run naked through cornfields, receive secret messages from the TV, befriend a former Navy Seal and his talking stuffed monkey, and see the Virgin Mary in the whorls of his own back hair. But with the Bird's help, he just might have a shot at pulling through, starting over, and maybe even meeting a partner who can love him back, bipolar and all.
Introducing an electrifying new voice, Gorilla and the Bird is a raw and unforgettable account of a young man's unraveling and the relationship that saves him.