The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

In her memoir, The Art of Misdiagnosis, novelist Gayle Brandeis (The Book of Dead Birds) focuses on her mother's suicide in 2009. Arlene hanged herself in a parking garage in Pasadena, Calif., just weeks after Brandeis had given birth to her youngest son, Asher. Recovering from the pregnancy and nursing her son, Brandeis was thrown into a surreal emotional state after the suicide, between extremes of life and death. In The Art of Misdiagnosis, she's able to approach the tragedy with writerly distance and perspective, delving into the complexities of her mother, her parents' marriage and her own childhood. Brandeis crafts a sympathetic portrait of a flawed yet enterprising woman who suffered from mental illness. Her mother was working on a documentary film about medical misdiagnosis at the time of her death, and excerpts from the script are included throughout the memoir.

Brandeis relies on her novelistic skills to reconstruct her mother's story, as well as her own. She addresses a period in her adolescence when she used a misdiagnosed illness to garner attention, and connects the experience to her mother's eccentric personality and the way illness is perceived in the world, both as handicap and martyrdom.

The Art of Misdiagnosis is a gripping and deeply felt memoir that demonstrates how the very act of writing can pull one from the depths of tragedy and toward the light of compassion. In the words of Arlene Baylen Brandeis herself, "all is preparation for love." --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

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