A Delightful ‘Head Case’

March 1, 2011

A few months ago I took an afternoon writing seminar from Dennis Cass at The Loft Literary Center here in Minneapolis.  While I learned a few things about writing, what I remember most was how absolutely entertaining Dennis is.

So I made a mental note to read some of his stuff…one day.  You know, there’s a big stack on my nightstand.  At the time I found this fun piece published in NYTimes Magazine and really enjoyed it.

But last week I finally got around to picking up Head Case, a memoir about his attempt to understand his brain, and ultimately his stepfather, just as he was becoming a father himself.  Dennis has a voice, in person and on the page, that is at once dead serious and full-belly-laugh humorous, both attributes traveling parallel like the lines on an equal sign, and completely lacking the maudlin tone that marks the popular memoir.  He may never make Oprah’s Book Club, but he should.

He begins with an obsession that leads him into a past he clearly would rather not visit.  The result of that obsession is the tale of a pretty screwed up childhood and the process of temporary fixation which many of us indulge in at some point in our lives.  And his journey leads to some very realistic insight on what it means to move on and live with our own imperfect minds.  It is a search to understand science by an unscientifically minded person, which makes for great story-telling by a very talented writer.

Now I realize I am no book reviewer.  My posts about books I’ve enjoyed amount to “Dude!  You’ve got to read this!  And then call me so I can talk about it with you!”  But hey, it worked once so I’ll keep doing it.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.  If you’d like a taste of his delightful humor and voice, you can view his book promo video here.  And if you do read it, please email me so I’ll have someone to share it with.

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3 Responses to “A Delightful ‘Head Case’”

  1. “… both attributes traveling parallel like the lines on an equal sign …” I’m a simple person, Sally, and it’s that kind of writing that makes me happy; the ability of the author to create a vision in my head that creates a more accessible message. I would love to be able to find that talent in myself. In the meantime, YOU are very good at what you seem to dearly love and yes, I do intend to read this book! d.

  2. Joanne Toft said

    Thanks for the review – would love to read this one – can I borrow your book at some time?

    I also love the image you created with your traveling parallel lines. You are writing daily aren’t you?!!!

  3. brennagee said

    This sounds like a book and writer I would thoroughly enjoy. I like belly-laugh humor minus maudlin. Thanks for putting his name in front of me. I will add his book to the pile I have on MY nightstand.:)

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