8 O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing interviews, radio producer and author Charles Monroe-Kane. In his new book, he writes of growing up in a poor family in Ohio and of hearing voices in his head. He writes of being drawn to Christianity as a teenager, thinking that the voices is his head meant he was called by God to spread the word. Later on in college, after a breakdown, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he then threw himself into volunteer missionary work, which led to immersion in the leftist radical scene around Amsterdam. He then went to Prague, where the post-communist cultural awakening inspired him to give up psychiatric medication for the next 15 years. The book (U.W. Press) is called Lithium Jesus: A Memoir of Mania.
From the publisher, U.W. Press’s website:
has won a Peabody Award for his work as a senior producer and interviewer for the program To the Best of Our Knowledge, broadcast on 220 public radio stations. He has reported for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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.
The book launch for Lithium Jesus is this Friday September 23rd at 7PM in the Community Room of the Madison Central Public Library on Mifflin, the event is part of the Wisconsin Book Festival.