Harnisch (Freak, 2016, etc.) presents a semiautobiographical book of meditations on mental illness and the world at large.
The author explains in an introduction that his book is “an intentionally non-linear, plotless narrative that reflects the chaotic structure of Jonathan Harnisch’s mind.” And, as the contents make evident, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a more apt description. The 21 short chapters feature titles ranging from the raunchy “Ode to Granny the Tranny: Nurse Natalie” to the more perplexing “I am a Responsive Santa on Steroids.” The book was written, to some extent, as a response to Myriam Gurba’s 2011 book Wish You Were Me, and it offers a loose foray into Harnisch’s thinking that’s full of singsong prose (“Maybe at a museum. At the MOMA—The motherfucking Museum of Modern Art”). Topics include schizophrenia and a lost connection with actor Mel Gibson: “He and I have built memories together, just memories, and the resurrection of reconnecting. We haven’t been in touch since 2005 or 2006.” There’s also a graphic love rant (“I’m sick over you. I want to throw up all my love on you”) and a note on personal endurance (“my resilience emanates from the greatest lesson I’ve learned: laughter”). This book is every bit as free-wheeling as the introduction implies, providing a glimpse at its author’s inner workings—both in its flights of fancy and in its more earnest sentiments. It’s in the tradition of such other autobiographical writers as Kathy Acker (described herein as the author’s “fantasy date”), and it provides a light skim across the waters of a self-described “mentally ill artist” who’s not all too keen on how readers will feel about any of it: “Wander the reader astray, do not attempt to care for the reader, kill the reader.” Overall, it’s an assuredly brief collage of varied, unabashedly unpolished feelings.
An untethered collection of one man’s thoughts that introduces readers to the possibilities of chapbook-style constructions.