A Memoir of Mania
As featured on This American Life
Charles Monroe-Kane is a natural raconteur, and boy, does he have stories to tell. Born into an eccentric Ohio clan of modern hunter-gatherers, he grew up hearing voices in his head. Over a dizzying two decades, he was many things—teenage faith healer, world traveler, smuggler, liberation theologian, ladder-maker, squatter, halibut hanger, grifter, environmental warrior, and circus manager—all the while wrestling with schizophrenia and self-medication.
From Baby Doc’s Haiti to the Czech Velvet Revolution, and from sex, drugs, and a stabbing to public humiliation by the leader of the free world, Monroe-Kane burns through his twenties and several bridges of youthful idealism before finally saying: enough.
In a memoir that blends engaging charm with unflinching frankness, Monroe-Kane gives his testimony of mental illness, drug abuse, faith, and love. By the end of Lithium Jesus there may be a voice in your head, too, saying “Do more, be more, live more. And fear less.”
By the time you get to my age, you’ve experienced fear.
A man with a gun. An acid trip gone wrong. A serious car accident.
Holding a loved one’s hand in the ICU.
But there is something singular about the fear that comes from hearing voices.
Voices no one can hear but you.
—excerpt from Lithium Jesus, © The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.
“A young man grapples with bipolar ‘voices’ via religion, hedonism, activism, and Lithium. In his debut, Monroe-Kane, a Peabody Award–winning public radio producer, brings a fresh perspective to familiar memoir territory. . . . [A] compelling account of wrestling with inner turmoil against gritty, dramatic international settings.”
“This humble, funny, raw (yes, sex) book is a pell-mell kaleidoscope of faith, drugs, bawdy behavior, and mental illness that resolves not in soft focus or shattered glass but in the sweet important idea that there are many ways to be born again.”
—Michael Perry, author of The Jesus Cow
“For all the voices that once raged through his head, Charles Monroe-Kane has finally found the true one: his own. With plainspoken honesty, he takes us through his raucous mission to devour a world before it devoured him, arriving finally at the hard truth of salvation.”
—David Giffels, author of The Hard Way on Purpose
“The mind of Charles Monroe-Kane crackles with a scary, exhilarating, manic, and beautiful energy. His book left my mouth agape. His story bobs and weaves, lulls readers into the right jab—then clocks us with a roundhouse. Charles lives his story like no other, and he tells it like nobody else can.”
—Glynn Washington, host of public radio program Snap Judgment