Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premier Mental Institution
By Alex Beam
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Method of Disposal: Donating, unless you want it
I sheepishly admit that I bought this book in 2002 and did not read it until just a few days ago. This is not the first time this has happened here, but who wants to admit how many books they have carried around without reading, while still buying more? Not me. I saw this book while I was working for Waldenbooks, but I purchased it at this amazing place called Kudzu. It was a huge bargain and remainder book store with books for miles. I would buy a whole shopping cart worth. I use to go with my mom quite often, but I also went with a wonderful woman named Kristal, whom I worked with. Gracefully Insane cost me $7.99. Most of the books I bought were even less pricey. Not to mention, I had a job with a lot of hours and no bills—money for miles. Oh, how I wish that part could happen again…so bad.
Gracefully Insane was not what I expected, though I cannot really tell you what that was. The book was full of interesting and potentially trivial snippets that kept me entertained. I read it quickly and happily. I was intrigued with the famous people who had resided at McLeans, all the luxuries that were offered there throughout the years, and the overwhelming wealth of many of the tenants. It was also frustrating to realize just how different it was for rich folks than others. McLean made it a point, early on, to kick out the “paupers.” It would house Ray Charles, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Susanna Kaysen, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brother, among others.
I do recommend it. It was interesting and easy to read. Let me know if you are willing to try it out.