At the age of 15, during one long and difficult summer, Michael Greenberg's daughter, Sally, was struck mad. Her visionary crackup occurred on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continued, among other places, in the lost-in-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's most sweltering months. "I feel like I'm travelling and travelling with nowhere to go back to," Sally says in a burst of lucidity while hurtling toward insanity.
Hurry Down Sunshine is Greenberg's journey to comprehend mental illness and his own family, and to rescue his daughter from her desperate downward spiral. With touching honesty and intimacy, he reveals Sally's effect on those closest to her--her brother, her grandmother, her mother and her stepmother--and, finally, on himself.
Greenberg's memorable gallery of characters includes a surprisingly unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish mental patient and a manic classic professor. Unsentimental, nuanced and deeply humane, Hurry Down Sunshine is a transcendent memoir about mental illness and the restorative power of one father's love for his daughter.
On July 5th, 1996, my daughter was struck mad....
My first impulse was to blame myself. Predictably, I tried to tally up the mistakes I had made, what I had failed to provide her, but they weren't enough to explain what had happened. Nothing was. Briefly, I placed my hope in the doctors, then realized that, beyond the relatively narrow clinical fact of her symptoms, they knew little more about her condition than I did. The underlying mechanisms of psychosis, I would discover, are as shrouded in mystery as they have ever been. And while this left little immediate hope for cure, it pointed to broader secrets.
It's something of a sacrilege nowadays to speak of insanity as anything but the chemical brain disease that on one level it is. But there were moments with my daughter when I had the distressed sense of being in the presence of a rare force of nature, like a great blizzard or flood: destructive, but in its way astounding too.
--From Hurry Down Sunshine
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: Michael Greenberg's spare, unflinching memoir begins with a bang: "On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad." Hurry Down Sunshine chronicles the summer when fifteen-year-old Sally experienced her first full-blown manic episode—an event that in a "single stroke" changed her identity and, by extension, that of her entire family. Simply told and beautifully written, Greenberg's memoir shines a stark light on mental illness, painting a vivid picture of a brain and body under siege—mania as a separate living thing squatting within the patient. As a writer who lives "so much in his head," Greenberg is particularly anguished by his daughter's fractured psyche, and his honesty about being both sickened and fascinated by his daughter's condition is breathtaking: "During the worst moments, I think of her as my disease—the disease I must bear...I am intoxicated with Sally's madness in both senses of the word: inebriated and poisoned." So desperate is he to understand her, that he relentlessly researches mental illness (the book is peppered with fascinating insights into drug therapy and anecdotes about writers who struggled with madness), and even goes so far as to sample a full dose of his daughter's medication. Startling, heart-wrenching, and yet unwaveringly unsentimental, Hurry Down Sunshine is an unforgettable story of a young girl's descent into madness, told through the eyes of a harried and helpless father trying desperately to bring her back. --Daphne Durham
Michael Greenberg, a native New Yorker, is a columnist for the Times Literary Supplement (London), where his wide-ranging essays have been appearing since 2003. His fiction, criticism and travel pieces have been published widely. He lives in New York with his wife and nine-year-old son.
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Book Description Harpercollins Canada, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002007746