Zachary McDermott with Christopher Poulos
Zack McDermott, a 26-year-old Brooklyn public defender, woke up one morning convinced he was being filmed, Truman Show-style, as part of an audition for a TV pilot. He tells the story of his freefall into psychosis and his return to sanity in his book, Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love (Little, Brown). Zach McDermott appears in conversation with Christopher Poulos, an attorney and executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council. Once a homeless teenager who spent nearly three years in a federal prison for a drug-related conviction, he later served on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project.
"McDermott brings a vivid and unsettling degree of intimacy to his descriptions of mania's onset . . . His work as a public defender grows out of a deep sense of empathy for the stigmatized and marginalized that's evident on every page. He uses that empathy to construct a deeply compassionate portrait of his mother—a resilient woman whose love helps ground him in the real, even in moments when his reality is at its most friable." —NPR.org.
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