Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rage Against the Meshugenah by Danny Evans

Rage Against the Meshugenah by Danny EvansI’ve long been a lurker at the blog Dad Gone Mad, and always enjoy Danny Evans’ dry humor and funny anecdotes. When I realized that he had a book coming out and the subject matter, I became even more interested. To top it all off, I then learned that Evans grew up in my town, and is a childhood friend of two of my close friends. Huh. Small world. So when his book, Rage Against the Meshugenah released last week, I had mine preordered from Amazon.

Rage Against the Meshugenah is Evans’ recounting of his battle with clinical depression. It’s a powerful tale, written with his trademark wit, insight, and honesty. It’s an obvious labor of love, and also an obvious attempt to reach out to other men (and women) who either battle with depression or have a loved one that battles depression. For those not in the know, meshugenah is the yiddish word for crazy.

I could instantly relate to Evans’ voice – his wit matches my own twisted sense of homor. I identified with his feelings about Judaism; although my parents never had delusions of grandeur and believed I’d become a rabbi, like Evans, I was forced to go to temple every week until I was confirmed. (And while I don’t force every Friday night on my own children, I am forcing religious education on them through confirmation. Huh.) I also identified with the tales of his hometown – of course it helps that he’s writing about my own hometown.

What is most important, though, is how any person can see bits of their own life in his book. How anyone can identify with something here. Whether it’s Danny himself, or with his wife, or with the situation in which he found himself – suddenly unemployed, looking at a world seemingly falling apart (just post 9/11), wondering how on earth he was going to manage to support himself and his young family.

Evans is unafraid to recount the soul-searching, the ups and downs (and there were a lot of downs), the horrifyingly embarassing moments that accompany depression, and the triumphs that come as well. He does so with incredibly self-depracating humor for the most part. I was laughing my ass off during the chapters in which he recounted the birth of his 2nd child and his vasectomy. Much to my eldest’s displeasure, since he was trying to watch the very serious season finale of Burn Notice. I couldn’t help it. I shoved the book in front of his face and said “Read this. This is why I’m laughing!” Jeff ever so slightly smirked, then told me to go read in the other room.

But there are sad, and poignant moments in the book as well. Evans spends a good deal of time remembering his stormy relationship with his father, and there is a time following his wife’s miscarriage where he calls his dad and they share a father/son moment. He bravely shares what depression and medication can do to one’s sexual activity, and how it colors all of your interpersonal relationships. He tells of the seemingly incredibly fast spiral downward into depression, and the endlessly confusing and often frustrating foray into the world of mental health care.

For anyone who is affected by clinical depression either personally, or secondhand, or even thirdhand, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a masterful first-person insight into how the male mind thinks, feels, and works. It’s not a self-help book, so no worries on that front. It’s entertaining and witty. Sad and heartrending as well. One word of warning, and that is that Evans’ language is not for the faint of heart or easily offended. He lays it all out there. I had no issues with it, but if you’re recommending this book to your mother or grandmother, be forewarned. Also, if you haven’t ever been to DadGoneMad.com, swing by. His stories of himself, his Hot Wife, and his 2 kids are refreshing, funny, and always spot on.

Buy Rage Against the Meshugenah here.

I'm giving away a copy of this book - leave a comment here or over on the post about the contest at Let's Gab through August 17th at 11:59 pm PST, and you'll be entered.

(Rosie, since you already commented before I posted about the contest, I'll enter you)


Have you read it? What do you think?

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