In the tradition of The End of Your Life Book Club and Bettyville, this uplifting, funny, and heartbreaking memoir about a mother and son on a journey of self-discovery and the rag-tag community that rallied together to support the most unconventional of mothers as she entered the last phase of her life.
Dan Mathews knew that his eccentric mother, Perry Lawrence, was outspoken, foul-mouthed, and, at seventy-nine years old, unable to maintain her fiercely independent lifestyle—so he flew her across the country (with a gay man as her escort) to live with him in a dilapidated Victorian townhouse in Portsmouth, Virginia. What he didn’t know was that she was schizophrenic.
Over the next five years, Dan and Perry built a rollicking life together fueled by costume parties, experiments in drug use, and an unshakeable sense of humor as they faced down illness, natural disasters, and Perry’s steady decline. With the help of an ever-expanding circle of friends—boyfriends new and old, strippers, DJs, gun nuts, Evangelical Christians, and everyone in between—they flipped the parent-child relationship on its head, with the globe-trotting animal rights activist finally learning to slow down and care for the woman who raised him.
But it wasn’t until after a kicking-and-screaming trip to the emergency room that Dan discovered that his mother’s lifelong tendency to go it alone wasn’t just a manifestation of her free spirit but was actually the inescapable element of a serious and undiagnosed disorder.
Witty, emotionally powerful, and deeply moving, Like Crazy is a warm and engrossing memoir about mental illness, reinvention, and the remarkable power of community. Lovingly told, Mathews’s memoir is also a profound meditation on the joys and pitfalls of caring for an aging family member and of the remarkable growth that takes place as a child steps into the role of the parent.
Dan Mathews was born and raised in Orange County, California by a single mother who encouraged her three boys to bring home stray animals. In high school, he was beaten up for being gay and credits those rough times with helping him develop the thick skin needed to be an animal activist. He spent two years in Italy working as a fashion model and bit-part actor before returning to the US to earn a degree in history from American University in Washington, DC. Shortly afterwards, he began working at PETA as a receptionist and within a year was organizing protests. As PETA’s Director of Campaigns, he helps increase awareness of the rights of animals through high-profile events. He has been arrested for his activities more than twenty times but usually gets released from jail within a day. Through a unique combination of sex, humor, and glamour, he has turned animal rights into one of the hottest causes of the last two decades.