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The Answer to the Riddle Is Me
Cover of The Answer to the Riddle Is Me
The Answer to the Riddle Is Me
A Memoir of Amnesia
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"A deeply moving account of amnesia that . . . reminds us how we are all always trying to find a version of ourselves that we can live with." —Los Angeles Times
On October 17, 2002, David MacLean "woke up" on a train platform in India with no idea who he was or why he was there. No money. No passport. No identity.

Taken to a mental hospital by the police, MacLean then started to hallucinate so severely he had to be tied down. He could remember song lyrics, but not his family, his friends, or the woman he was told he loved. The illness, it turned out, was the result of a commonly prescribed antimalarial medication he had been taking. Upon his return to the United States, he struggled to piece together the fragments of his former life.

In this "mesmerizing, unsettling memoir about the ever-echoing nature of identity—written in vivid, blooming detail," he tells the harrowing, absurd, and unforgettable story of his journey back to himself (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl).

"[MacLean] is an exceedingly entertaining psychotic. . . . [A] raw, honest and beautiful memoir." —The New York Times

"If bad things are going to happen, we are lucky when they happen to someone with the wit, humanity and sweetness—to say nothing of an eye for detail and a gift for pacing—that MacLean brings to this wrenching tale. . . . Readers who flip open the book will find MacLean, preserved between pages, goofy and serious, lost and found." —Chicago Tribune

"[MacLean] writes eloquently about the bizarre and disturbing experience of having his sense of self erased and then reconstructed from scratch." —The New Yorker

"A deeply moving account of amnesia that . . . reminds us how we are all always trying to find a version of ourselves that we can live with." —Los Angeles Times
On October 17, 2002, David MacLean "woke up" on a train platform in India with no idea who he was or why he was there. No money. No passport. No identity.

Taken to a mental hospital by the police, MacLean then started to hallucinate so severely he had to be tied down. He could remember song lyrics, but not his family, his friends, or the woman he was told he loved. The illness, it turned out, was the result of a commonly prescribed antimalarial medication he had been taking. Upon his return to the United States, he struggled to piece together the fragments of his former life.

In this "mesmerizing, unsettling memoir about the ever-echoing nature of identity—written in vivid, blooming detail," he tells the harrowing, absurd, and unforgettable story of his journey back to himself (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl).

"[MacLean] is an exceedingly entertaining psychotic. . . . [A] raw, honest and beautiful memoir." —The New York Times

"If bad things are going to happen, we are lucky when they happen to someone with the wit, humanity and sweetness—to say nothing of an eye for detail and a gift for pacing—that MacLean brings to this wrenching tale. . . . Readers who flip open the book will find MacLean, preserved between pages, goofy and serious, lost and found." —Chicago Tribune

"[MacLean] writes eloquently about the bizarre and disturbing experience of having his sense of self erased and then reconstructed from scratch." —The New Yorker

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About the Author-
  • David Stuart Maclean is a Pen/American award–winning writer. His work has appeared in Ploughshares and on the radio program This American Life. He has a PhD from the University of Houston and is a cofounder of the Poison Pen Reading Series. He lives in Chicago with his wife.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 30, 2013
    MacLean fearlessly explores his journey to the edge of madness and his subsequent return to sanity in an unsettling, sometimes riotous, memoir. Destabilized by the brutal side effects of anti-malaria medication in India, MacLean hurtled into near-total amnesia. “I couldn’t even think of what name would have been on a passport if I had one or what foreign country I was currently in. This is when I panicked.” Committed to a mental hospital, where his allergic drug reaction is diagnosed, MacLean flails unsuccessfully for solid mental touchstones while making vivid, sometimes lovely observations about the swirl of life around him. After a rough return to his Ohio home, he adapts skills “used by any con man” to feign recognition and familiarity with his personal history. He breaks up with his girlfriend, nearly a stranger, and returns to India. The harsh effects of the drug Lariam are described soberly and clinically, but his account of returning to a foreign land proves especially disorienting, though an interlude of romantic misadventure offers some comic relief. He painfully reconstructs his breakdown, which was followed by a return to graduate school and a dreary routine of drinking, punctuated by troubling dreams that left him awake, alone, and bereft. The uneasy peace he attains grows stronger by the end of the book, when it’s oddly cheering to read “everyday crazy is something I can handle.” Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary.

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The Answer to the Riddle Is Me
The Answer to the Riddle Is Me
A Memoir of Amnesia
David Stuart MacLean
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