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 Inside Flap:

"My brother saw the face of God. You never recover from a trauma like that."

So begins Angelhead, a taut, powerful memoir of the madness and crime that rips a family apart.

"I didn't see God, of course, but I saw my brother seeing God; I saw how petrified he was, how convinced."

Set in Tidewater, Virginia, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Angelhead documents the violent, drug-addled, schizophrenic descent of the author's brother, Michael. Commencing with Michael's first psychotic break at age 14 -- high on acid, seeing God in his suburban bedroom window -- through a series of petty crimes, bizarre disappearances, and suicide attempts to the shocking crime that landed him in the psychiatric wing of a maximum security prison, Angelhead enables us to witness firsthand, as never before, the fragmenting of a mind and a family.

"I knew, still know, that he saw, in some form, His or Her or Its face."

Bottoms shows, in pitch-perfect prose and with great empathy and dramatic tension, the psychological decline of his brother as he becomes obsessed first with heavy metal music, martial arts, and the occult, and then with the more bizarre aspects of Christianity. We not only see the effects Michael's odd and increasingly violent behavior has on the people around him, but also come to understand how the author, now a successful writer and journalist, used the power of language and storytelling both to save himself and to forgive his brother. With the fast pace and seamless structure of the best crime writing and the moral sophistication and depth of our finest literature, Angelhead will challenge what we know about mental illness and its impact on us all. It is a brilliant work of unusual intensity.

"In his room he was having his first of many psychotic breaks. It came in the form of crippling guilt, ruthless introspection. He was Jesus being scolded by an angry Father. He wore sin, all sin, heavy as lead shackles. God made him look at himself and he was a stone with a minuscule heart."

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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 ***** Print on Demand *****. 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 # APC9780226067643

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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 ***** Print on Demand *****.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 # APC9780226067643

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Book Description University of Chicago Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 227 pages. A taut, powerful memoir of madness, Angelhead documents the violent, drug-addled descent of the authors brother, Michael, into schizophrenia. Beginning with Michaels first psychotic breakseeing God in his suburban bedroom window while high on LSDGreg 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, 2000Angelhead 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-ConstitutionGreg 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 This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780226067643

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