Our second online book talk, at 4 p.m. this Sunday, showcases a book with an unusual title: Jesus Goes to Hollywood: A Memoir of Madness.
Please let us explain.
The author, Tom Matte (right) of suburban Atlanta, tells a cautionary tale of what can happen when a normal-seeming life collides with substance abuse and mental illness. Tom was a successful marketing man — that’s his clever Instagram meme with Brer Rabbit at far right. A few years ago, his recreational use of cocaine spun out of control and started rewiring his brain. He grew paranoid, tried to burn down his house, left his wife and two children, and went on a three-continent spending spree that cleaned out their savings and left him penniless and sleeping on the beach near the Santa Monica Pier in California. At one point, he was so crazy he imagined he was Jesus –– hence the title.
Tom ended up serving time in two Georgia jails and then slowly climbed his way back from the abyss. The last section of the book is about his mental healing and his arduous efforts to reconnect with his family. After all he did to them, it wasn’t easy.
Tom’s memoir is horrifying, but it’s also darkly humorous in places. Mixing the two is a technique as old as storytelling. We certainly recognize it here at the Wren’s Nest because the fellow who used to live here, Joel Chandler Harris, mixed them quite often in the Uncle Remus stories. In “The Awful Fate of Mr. Wolf,” to name one example, Brer Rabbit tricks Brer Wolf into being boiled alive, and then calls his friends over for a celebratory feast. The last we see of Brer Wolf is a pelt hanging on the back porch.
We can assure you that no animals were harmed in Tom’s memoir. His mental well-being was another matter.
To attend the book talk, register at Eventbrite and you’ll receive an email with a link to join the meeting on Zoom. It’s free, and books will be available for sale. Hope to see you Sunday.