Angelhead: My Brother's Descent into Madness

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9780226067643: Angelhead: My Brother's Descent into Madness

A taut, powerful memoir of madness, Angelhead documents the violent, drug-addled descent of the author's brother, Michael, into schizophrenia. Beginning with Michael's first psychotic break—seeing God in his suburban bedroom window while high on LSD—Greg Bottoms recounts, in gripping, dramatic prose, the bizarre disappearances, suicide attempts, and the shocking crime that land Michael in the psychiatric wing of a maximum security prison. A work of nonfiction with the form and imagery of a novel, Angelhead enables the reader to witness not only the fragmenting of a mind, but of a family as well.

"A tour-de-force memoir. . . . Bottoms writes like a poet, he writes like he is on fire."—Esquire, Book of the Year, 2000

"Angelhead is a brilliant, albeit inconceivably sad book. The fact that Bottoms survived the ordeal is incredible. But the fact that he could write about it with such pathos and insight is nothing less than extraordinary."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Greg Bottoms has provided a biographical novel about his brother that may be as close as most of us will ever get to knowing what it is to be truly mad. Angelhead is a story nearly as terrifying as the disease it describes."—Psychology Today

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Review:

When he was 10 years old, the author watched as his brother Michael lost his mind. High on LSD and screaming uncontrollably because God was torturing him, the 14-year-old smashed everything in his bedroom, his feet red with blood from broken glass. Michael collected snakes and let them slither around his naked body; he beat Greg nearly senseless, then smashed his own forehead into a sharp branch in repentance; he stayed up all night, watching Christian television or "puzzling over his strange and cruel distance from God." Their parents, preoccupied by the ceaseless work that had taken them from a dirt-poor Virginia town to an affluent suburb that they really couldn't afford, thought drugs the problem and throwing Michael out the answer. Not until 1977, when he was 21, did they learn that he was an acute paranoid schizophrenic, so severely mentally ill that he probably would never be healed, although medication might control his behavior. Michael became increasingly dangerous, but could not be institutionalized against his will; when he set their house on fire in 1993, the father's reaction was relief: "This was the best thing that could have happened.... He'll be put away." He was, and, Bottoms acknowledges, "We've all found a peace without Michael that we're not willing to give up." There's no false sentiment in this unflinching memoir of a family that's alienated, instead of united, by tragedy: "We all hid from each other," Bottoms writes with characteristic candor. "We shared a space, a roof, nothing else." There is, however, tremendous sorrow for a blighted life and the havoc that it wrought. Bottoms's finely crafted prose offers no consolation or easy answers--simply emotional precision and the satisfaction of hard truth. --Wendy Smith

From the Back Cover:

"I am on record as believing that any day is better when I am not asked to read another memoir. But Greg Bottoms's book caught my attention immediately and drew me in. I read it all in one sitting. I glanced up once or twice to look out of the window and to clear my head, and then when I finished I looked at the window again but it was dark outside. Which, considering what I'd just finished reading, seemed appropriate.

"I would feel foolish in saying that the book is powerful and well written. . . . That doesn't seem the point somehow. Angelhead is direct, inventive, clearly imagined, and packs a punch. It is a book people will talk about -- perhaps productively."         
-- Ann Beattie

"Angelhead is a cleanly distilled story of a profound family anguish. On every one of its two hundred pages there are sentences like arrows. The whole work has the beauty of hard, painful truth, arrived at through intelligence, art, and compassion. This is one of the most moving books I've read in a long, long time."        
-- John Casey

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 203 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A taut, powerful memoir of madness, Angelhead documents the violent, drug-addled descent of the author s brother, Michael, into schizophrenia. Beginning with Michael s first psychotic break - seeing God in his suburban bedroom window while high on LSD - Greg Bottoms recounts, in gripping, dramatic prose, the bizarre disappearances, the suicide attempts, and the shocking crime that lands Michael in the psychiatric wing of a maximum security prison. A work of nonfiction with the form and imagery of a novel, Angelhead enables the reader to witness not only the fragmenting of a mind but of a family as well. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226067643

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New edition. 203 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A taut, powerful memoir of madness, Angelhead documents the violent, drug-addled descent of the author s brother, Michael, into schizophrenia. Beginning with Michael s first psychotic break - seeing God in his suburban bedroom window while high on LSD - Greg Bottoms recounts, in gripping, dramatic prose, the bizarre disappearances, the suicide attempts, and the shocking crime that lands Michael in the psychiatric wing of a maximum security prison. A work of nonfiction with the form and imagery of a novel, Angelhead enables the reader to witness not only the fragmenting of a mind but of a family as well. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226067643

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