Award-winning novelist and poet Gayle Brandeis’s memoir of her complicated family history and her mother’s suicide at the age of 70
Gayle Brandeis’ mother hanged herself one week after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Around the time of her suicide, Gayle’s mother was working on a documentary called The Art of Misdiagnosis about the rare illnesses she thought ravaged her family, a project she felt was guided by the spirits of her dead relatives and may have led to her unraveling. But this was delusion, and Brandeis’ book slowly peels back the complicated layers of deception and complicity, of illness and mental illness in her family, to show how they had all misdiagnosed one another: which is to say, didn’t really understand one another.
This unique, compelling memoir braids together a narration of the charged weeks surrounding the suicide, transcriptions of her mother’s film, research into delusional and factitious disorders, and Gayle’s own experience with misdiagnosis and illness (both fabricated and real). While it covers painful terrain, The Art of Misdiagnosis is ultimately a life-affirming story of breaking familial silences, and a reminder of the importance of owning one’s truth.
“In her gorgeous and unforgettable memoir, Brandeis captures the unruly mess and terrifying beauty of family love. A profound meditation on illness, healing, and the luminous chaos of the human heart. It is one of the most moving and thought-provoking memoirs I have ever read.”
—Alice Eve Cohen, author of What I Thought I Knew and The Year My Mother Came Back
About the Author:
Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write and the novels The Book of Dead Birds, which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement (judged by Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and contest founder Barbara Kingsolver), Self Storage, Delta Girls, and My Life with the Lincolns, which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a Read On Wisconsin pick, as well as a collection of poetry, The Selfless Bliss of the Body. Her essays, poems and short fiction have been widely published and have received numerous honors, including a Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award, and a Notable mention in The Best American Essays 2016. She teaches in the BA and low residency MFA programs at Sierra Nevada College, where she was named Distinguished Visiting Professor/Writer in Residence, and the low residency MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Gayle served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2012-2014 and was called a Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine.