Thursday, June 06, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Maps to the Other Side

Sascha Altman DuBrul [microcosm]

Sascha Altman DuBrul is a writer, wanderer, punk, farmer, squatter, musician, activist and the founder of The Icarus Project — the radical mental health network that seeks to redefine the public's preception of mental illness. Sascha is himself bipolar. Instead of viewing his condition as an affliction or disease, Altman views it as a “dangerous gift,” something that can be used as a tool to create.

Maps to the Other Side is a collection of Sascha's writings over the years. Whether this was evident to him at the time or not, Sascha now recognizes these stories as guideposts in a lifelong journey. Some of these writings appeared in zines, like Slug and Lettuce and The Secret Lives of White People, some are from the column “Bipolar World” that he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and some are simply pieces Sascha wrote for himself.

The book is subtitled "The Adventures of a Bipolar Cartographer." In his understanding of how is own brain works, Sascha sees his mind as a map that requires navigation and time to figure out. This makes Sascha a mental mapmaker. Like most people living with bipolarism, Sascha veers off course from time to time. This is alarming and alienating to those around him when it happens and this book seeks to help people understand the unpredictable nature of mental disorders. Part memoir, part travel diary, part "how-to," Maps to the Other Side should be all parts inspirational to those charting the same course, informative to those who are not and enlightening to allChris Auman

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