copyright 2000 Jim Knipfel, J. P. Tarcher. 288 pages. memoir.

Like The Bell Jar, but with a guy.

I'm tempted to say "it's ever so much more than that," and it is, but at heart it's the same story. Person gets institutionalized for being troubled and causing trouble. Person does not fit in among chairthrowers and napkineaters. How to convince those in charge to sign release papers? Eventually Knipfel is let loose on the world again, but not before he shows you some unexpected aspects of the hospital and the people there.

Funnier than Plath's novel or Girl, Interrupted, this book is almost a celebration of life on the inside. Worth reading if only for the part where Knipfel figures out what has and has not been wrong with him during his 6-month stay in the hospital. In a few pages he gives you his problems, his tangles, his whole brain, and the things he knows as true, as if saying I do not know quite how to analyze this thing, but now I know what it is, I can encompass this, I can go back to my life now.

It's a good book. It will make you want to go for a walk, not only just to feel lucky and special not to be locked up in a psychiatric ward, but to remind yourself how easy it can be to enjoy the easy good things.