Ken would have appreciated my ironic title of this posting on the anniversary of his death, April 25, as he was no fan of the IRS; Uncle Sam was, to him, the ultimate Scrooge.
As I write this, I am sitting in a friend’s apartment in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where I am conducting research about Ken Rinciari.
Dawn, Ken’s surviving companion, has stories galore and I really enjoy her company in any case. We sit in her garden here in Alkmaar and talk, discussing world politics, recounting stories about Ken (Kenny, as she refers to him), gardening tips for my girlfriend back in Brooklyn, and all sorts of other topics.
Dawn had mentioned a handmade book Ken gave her about their trip to Hoboken (NJ) when I was here last year. It was to Alkmaar I did my first home exchange and it was with Ken, with whom I corresponded, and Dawn who came with him. It was in her old house, not far from here. Now she lives in a condo, also not far from here. Their friend Sonje visited as did Dawn’s son Jonathan.
The Hoboken book was missing last year, which was disappointing to me. But last week when I visited with Dawn, she presented the book for me to look at and it has re-inspired me about my writing about Ken and also gave me many ideas on framing, arc, and all those other writerly devises.
Following are the front and back covers of the “Hoboken book,” and the inside dedication from Ken to Dawn:
“A deeply personal account of the difficulties faced by people suffering from mental illness… Schroeder’s brutally honest memoir reveals the extraordinary effort required to take control of one’s mental and emotional health.” –Publishers Weekly
“A riveting and painfully honest account, Beautiful Wreck not only demonstrates the importance of humor and perseverance in the face of mental illness, but also affirms the power of self-reinvention.” -Kaitlin Bell Barnett, author of Dosed: The Medication Generation Grows Up
“I highly recommend this candid memoir, particularly for Schroeder’s strong voice that successfully balances life’s darkest moments with humor.” –Persephone Magazine
“Brave and relentless, a courage to do it all that astounds one. To write it all down. But that is what I have come to expect from Stephanie Schroeder. I have known her some 25 years and watched what she has done with her life: journalism, law; wonderful what she has been through; to hell and back again. A survivor. Always with a sense of humor, a jauntiness that says to hell with ordinary opinion.” -Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics
Written with humor, insight, perception, courage–a much needed work from a talented writer.” -Joan Nestle, activist, archivist & author of A Restricted Country and A Fragile Union
The memoir is now de rigeur, a rite of passage for middle-aged writers. To make one’s story stand out, it must stand up—to scrutiny, to deconstruction, to other people’s revisionism. Beautiful Wreck stands up—it’s the raw, honest, balls out (ovaries out?), in-your-face lesbian version of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces without the lying and posturing. Schroeder takes us, in real time and retrospectively, on the trip through “comfort suicide”—the belief that death can be an answer to depression. She explicates how normative emotional pain so severe it makes you want to die can become. Fortunately, three attempts with no success were the charm; that dark round-trip down the river Styx brings Schroeder back irrevocably to life at its deepest, fullest and most inspirational. This is what survival is, and Schroeder lays it bare. -Victoria A. Brownworth, award-winning author, Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life and Coming Out of Cancer
HEADCASE: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Writers & Artists on Mental Illness
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