Don't Go Crazy Without Me
Don't Go Crazy Without Me tells the tragicomic coming of age story of a girl who grew up under the seductive sway of her outrageously eccentric father. He taught her how to have fun; he also taught her to fear food poisoning, other children's infectious diseases, and the contaminating propensities of the world at large. Alienated from her emotionally distant mother, the girl bonded closely with her father and his worldview. When he plunged from neurotic to full-blown psychotic, she nearly followed him. Sanity is not always a choice, but for the sixteen-year-old, decisions had to be made and lines drawn between reality and what her mother called her "overactive imagination." She would have to give up beliefs carried by the infectious agent of her father's love.
Saving herself would require an unconventional reading of Moby Dick, sexual pleasure in the body that had confounded her, and entry into the larger world of political activism as a volunteer in Robert F. Kennedy's Presidential campaign. After attending his last stop at the Ambassador Hotel the night of his assassination, she would come to a new reckoning with loss and with engagement beyond the confines of her family. Ultimately, she would find a way to turn her grief into love.
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About the Author
Deborah A. Lott's memoirs, essays, and reportage have been published in the Rumpus, Salon, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellingham Review, Black Warrior Review, Cimarron Review, the Los Angeles Times, StoryQuarterly, the Good Men Project, the nervous breakdown, and many other places. Her family's legacy of hypochondria was featured on NPR's This American Life. Her first book, In Session: the Bond between Women and their Therapists, offered an unprecedented look at psychotherapy from the perspective of clients interviewed by the author. Her essays have been thrice named as "notables of the year" by Best American Essays. She teaches creative writing and literature at Antioch University, Los Angeles, where she serves as faculty advisor to Two Hawks Quarterly.com. She lives with her husband, Gary Edelstone, in Los Angeles.
Op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: "Op-Ed: I'm the daughter of a hypochondriac. I know that fear of COVID-19 won't make us safer."
Deborah A. Lott's Don't Go Crazy Without Me is funny, horrifying, and heartbreaking--and often surprisingly, all three at once. It's an astonishingly vivid book, and to read it is to be caught up, just as the writer was, in an impossible, crazy, misfit family. Through grace and nerve and will, Deborah learns that you can't "screw nature," or "stop time," as her father tried to do, "but you could turn your grief into love." This writer's love for her deeply screwed-up family is unforgettable. As the best memoirs do, Don't Go Crazy Without Me makes this writer's story belong to all of us.
--Mark Doty, National Book Award Winner, author of the memoirs Firebird, Dog Years, Heaven's Coast, and multiple volumes of poetry.
Don't Go Crazy Without Me is an extraordinary book. Deborah A. Lott writes about everything--parents, children, bodies, illness, sex, writing--with a voice that is utterly clear and beautiful and funny and original. This is a book written with honesty that will both break your heart and enlarge it.
--Karen E. Bender, National Book Award Finalist and author of A Town of Empty Rooms, Refund, and Like Normal People.
Hilarious, devastating, and compassionate: Deborah A. Lott's Don't Go Crazy Without Me is written with a ferocious intelligence; it pulverizes memoir as we knew it. This is glorious work by a writer working at the height of her power.
--Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door and Lawnboy
Sentence by sentence, Deborah A. Lott is one of the finest writers I know. Her keen insights into the dynamics of her quirky, unforgettable family, and into family dynamics in general, make this book bound to be a classic.
--Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
Brilliantly written with grace, generosity, and a highly refined sense of the absurd, Don't Go Crazy Without Me is the harrowing account of a chaotic, bewildering childhood. This reader was enthralled from the get-go, and Deborah A. Lott is now one of my favorite writers--I kiss the hem of her garment.
--Abigail Thomas, author of Safekeeping, Three Dog Night, and What Comes Next and How to Like It
Interviewed on 104.7 WONK-FM
Reviewed in the Jewish Journal by Jonathan Kirsch
Interview on Spirit of Story blog
Interviewed on the Kathryn Zox Radio Show on Voice of America