Disclaimer: I haven’t read this book. I read the dust jacket… and that provided me with more than enough fodder for this un-review. E.g.: “I swore I would never willingly go into such a place [loony bin] again. Never. And yet there was the powerful lure of the spectacle, and the human drama…”
This charming exercise in inanity is brought to you by Norah Vincent, author of Self-Made Man (no comment). In case you ever wondered what it’s like to live in the loony bin [sic], here’s your chance! Ms. Vincent has reserved you a front-row seat to watch the Drama, the Spectacle, the Exploitation unfold before your very eyes!
This “memoir” chronicles the crazy capers of Vincent as she pretends to be a real live crazy person for a year so she can “investigate” the mental health system in this country first hand. Right. This book epitomizes the cannon of such pseudo-journalistic endeavors that involve privileged people “infiltrating the world of the other” in order to get the scoop on “What it’s really like to be [insert: muslim, poor, black, loony, etc.]”. Because you’ll really be able to comprehend what it’s like while knowing in the back of your mind that you can, at any time, press the eject button and return safely to your privilege bubble. A lifetime of experiences and peoples’ individual identities apparently amount to nothing when you can play dress up. Really guys, it’s the same thing.
What also irks me about this is that she was able to get a book deal with the bare minimum of talent, effort, and credentials. She has been given a voice where she has little place to speak. As it turns out, people with mental illness can speak for themselves. Fancy that.
How bad is this book? I think I’d rather read Twilight, thanks.