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Book Review | Scattershot

Book Review | Scattershot
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The eccentric but loving family has long been a staple of American literature, movies, and television, and the Lovelaces of Hamilton, Massachusetts, seemed an exemplar of the species: the father, a minister who collected reptiles and showed Rosemary’s Baby to his stunned congregation; the artistic mother who dreamed of illustrating children’s books; three bright children who adored their parents. From the outside, the Lovelace family made for hilarious anecdotes. “Cars were blown up, snakes lost in libraries, boats sunk, iguanas left on curtains and children at gas stations,” David Lovelace writes in his searing memoir, Scattershot: My Bipolar Family (Dutton; $24.95). “So what? We were eccentric and fun. We were madcap. My friends thought it sounded fun and mostly it was, until our disease made it serious.”

“Our disease”–bipolar disorder, which causes its victims to cycle between depression and mania–afflicts four of the five Lovelaces. “Our sickness is chronic and there isn’t a cure. My sister is well. She isn’t bipolar. But the rest of our family–my parents, myself, and my brother–must take medicines for the rest of our lives. We’ve learned that our happiness will always be suspect and simple sadness must taste of despair.”

Reading Scattershot is a field trip to “a desperate circus,” as Lovelace, a poet and a magician with words, puts it. Harrowing as it is at times, his story also hints at the unimaginable heights to which the bipolar mind can soar.

Read a brief excerpt from Scattershot and find more information about the book.

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Tim Clark


Tim Clark


Tim Clark has been writing for Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer's Almanac since 1975. Subjects of his many Yankee profiles have included filmmaker Ken Burns, historian Barbara Tuchman, pediatrician and political activist Dr. Benjamin Spock, and World War II General James Gavin. Tim left his job as Managing Editor in 1999 to teach English at ConVal High School in Peterborough, N.H. for 13 years, but since retiring from that demanding and rewarding profession in 2012, he has continued to contribute articles and book reviews. Tim lives in Dublin, N.H., two miles from the offices of Yankee Publishing, and serves as Town Moderator, a post previously occupied by Rob Sagendorph, the founder of Yankee Magazine.
Updated Friday, February 6th, 2009

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