Monroe-Kane, Charles. “Lithium Jesus: A Memoir of Mania”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2016.
A Natural Raconteur
Charles Monroe-Kane is a natural raconteur who has stories to tell. He was born to an eccentric Ohio clan of modern hunter-gatherers and grew up hearing voices in his head. During a twenty-year period, he was many things—“teenage faith healer, world traveler, smuggler, liberation theologian, ladder-maker, squatter, halibut hanger, grifter, environmental warrior, and circus manager” and during this period he wrestled with schizophrenia and self-medication. His twenties were a time of youthful idealism and he shares those and other aspects of his life with us. It took Baby Doc’s Haiti, the Czech Velvet Revolution, sex, drugs, and a stabbing to public humiliation by the leader of the free world for Monroe-Kane to say he had enough.
His memoir is brutal in his honesty as he writes of mental illness, drug abuse, faith, and love and he wins us over quickly. He has not only dealt with bipolar ‘voices’ but he did so “via religion, hedonism, activism, and Lithium”. Today, Monroe-Kane is a Peabody Award–winning public radio producer who brings a fresh perspective to familiar memoir territory.
Monroe-Kane holds nothing back and he has learned that the most powerful voice that he has heard is his own. He was out to have the world before the world had him. We see that no one else could have written his life story but him, himself.