Call Me Crazy, Call Me True: Madness We Can All Relate To

shelved under Fiction and Bloggers' Picks

What makes madness and serious mental distress scary is that they are easily accessible to all of us. No one is truly safe in their mental state or in their social identity. And as scary as that is, there's also a reason to rejoice, because it makes the fluidity of human nature, between dark and light, all the more interesting. Here's some books of about varying degrees of crazy.


Stuart: A Life Backwards

by Alexander Masters

The biography of a formerly homeless drug addict who is not "all there," having arrived at his mental state via bad timing, little parenting, and the often doom-paved road of best intentions, this book is absolutely unforgettable. It's a wonderful mirror to the thread our notions of "society" hang from, and, in the end, how important it is to help your fellow human.


The Hole

by Guy Burt

The first time I read this I threw it across the room. The second time I read it, I said, outloud, "okay. I see. You win." So don't resist the skullsex this book will have with you at first. The main rundown is a bunch of kids get locked in a forgotten, dungeony-basement-like part of their old British private school. It starts off as a practical joke they're all in on, until they realize that the one and only person who knows where they are and has the key, is not sane, and has no intention of doing anything about their soon-to-be dire situation. Ah, youth.


Button, Button: Uncanny Stories

by Richard Matheson

I had to throw in my main literary squeeze into this list. His version of crazy is the black magic of his social commentary mixed with situations that just "don't happen to anyone," but you never know. You just never know. He explores temptation, the value of human life, greed, lust and of course, the strength of the human conscience, through stories about psychics, door-to-door hookers, and a mysterious box with a mysterious button. The title story, "Button, Button" is being made into a movie starring Cameron Diaz. She better not screw it up — that story is a doozy.


A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane

by Barry Yourgrau

One-, two-, and three-page long stories, sometimes whole tales, sometimes glimmers into someone's dream, fantasy or nightmare, Barry Yourgrau is a skilled magician with this collection. There are some stories here that are absolutely beautiful in their fragility, but what I love most is that they show how so many of us will often look out a window during a boring or sad part of our day and just "go away," far off, with no intention of returning, maybe even hoping we'll go nuts so we don't have to deal with responsibility. If the latter ever happens to me, I do hope it looks half as cool as Barry Yourgrau's descriptions of sanity within insanity.


Slowly, By Thy Hand Unfurled

by Romulus Linney

One word: depressing. A 19th century housewife keeps a diary. Things happen to her. People come and go. Who on this earth doesn't get lonely? But who spends THIS much time alone in their head? That's the question that gets answered through and through here and it's compelling and absolutely scary.


Rose Madder

by Stephen King

One of my favorite books by one of the authors that made me want to be an author. Rose escapes from her abusive husband (and the abuse is seriously crazy if nothing else) to start a new life, and the world is really a kind of foreign place to her because her husband never let her really live. Her husband uses his preternaturally good detective skills to hunt her down, and Rose finds herself taking solace in a painting she buys at a second-hand store. What I love about this book is the metaphor about the strength of the human spirit and woman's connection to nature. I've read this book four times and I always forget it was written by a man. There are chapters that are downright terrifying, others that are moving and pure, and others that show how easy it is for abused women to just end their lives, and how much it takes to stand up and say no. One of the best from Mr. King.