Mark Vonnegut Reads From His New Book

Posted on March 17, 2011

Last week at Fountain House, best-selling author Mark Vonnegut interspersed passages from his extraordinary memoir, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So, with insightful questions from award-winning journalist Jacki Lyden. Here’s an excerpt from their thoughtful and lively discussion.


A Cup of Pee

Jackie Lydon: A cup of pee?

Mark Vonnegut: Not infrequently, a boy will hand me a cup of pee that couldn't have come from him because there are vaginal cells in it or signs of a period or urinary tract infection. The first sign of something wrong is often that the temperature of the pee is closer to room temperature than 98.6. Another clue is when the person being tested tells his parent that he'll go wait for them in the car.

"Go get John. I have to talk to him," I say.

The parent knows better than to ask why and retrieves the invariably bristling, sullen, "What is up with this lame doctor?" patient.

"It's not your pee," I say
"It's not my pee?" Shock, outrage, and denial.
"It's not your pee." This can go on for awhile.
"How can you tell?"
"It's too cold and it came from a girl."

Art is Vital (from Q & A portion of reading)

Mark Vonnegut: I used to think it was this odd, quirky thing that I painted; and I odd quirky thing that I wrote, and I didn't understand that it was absolutely vital and essential to my recovery and my health. It's not an extra.

Audience member: Thank you!

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