“Exquisite. Full of wry humor, tenderness, and compassion.” —Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author
A hilarious and heartbreaking memoir about an outlandish mother and son on an odyssey of self-discovery, and the rag-tag community that rallied to help them as the mother entered the final phase of her life.
Dan Mathews knew that his witty, bawdy, unhinged mother, Perry, was unable to maintain her fierce independence at seventy-eight—so he flew her across the country to Virginia to live with him in an 1870 townhouse badly in need of repairs. But to Dan, a screwdriver is a cocktail not a tool, and he was soon overwhelmed with two fixer-uppers: the house and his mother.
Unbowed, Dan and Perry built a rollicking life together fueled by costume parties, road trips, after-hours gatherings, and an unshakeable sense of humor as they faced down hurricanes, blizzards, and Perry’s steady decline. They got by with the help of an ever-expanding circle of sidekicks—Dan’s boyfriends (past and present), ex-cons, sailors, strippers, deaf hillbillies, evangelicals, and grumpy cats—while flipping the parent-child relationship on its head.
But it wasn’t until a kicking-and-screaming trip to the emergency room that Dan discovered the cause of his mother’s unpredictable, often caustic behavior: Perry had lived her entire adult life as an undiagnosed schizophrenic.
Irreverent and emotionally powerful, Like Crazy is a darkly comic tale about the perils and rewards of taking in a fragile parent without derailing your life in the process. A rare story about mental illness with an uplifting conclusion, it shows the remarkable growth that takes place when a wild child settles down to care for the wild woman who raised him.
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.
"A deeply compassionate and occasionally hilarious look at what it means to care for a parent as they enter the last phase of life." —Real Simple, Best Books of 2020
“Like Crazy is exquisite. Full of wry humor, tenderness, and compassion.” —Jeannette Walls, bestselling author of The Glass Castle
"Dan Mathews writes with such wit and tenderness about his mother's descent into previously undiagnosed schizophrenia. But that’s not all: this book is also about his journey to self-acceptance and ultimately finding love. I couldn’t recommend it more." —Alan Cumming
“Mathews conveys potentially heavy and gut-wrenching family crises with page-turning style and heaps of wit. This tender, beautifully written celebration of familial love will resonate with readers.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Poignant, readable, and even fun despite the dark moments." —Kirkus
"As a psychologist who has worked with schizophrenia on a daily basis for the last 12 years, I found Dan Mathews' book nothing short of astonishing—just like his mother's life. He tells her story in a way that conveys the gravity of severe mental illness, but also captures the dizzying absurdity and even humor that came with caring for his mother and loving her. A poignant and beautiful book." —Richard Weiss, Supervising Psychologist, Los Angeles County