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Gorilla and the Bird

A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love
Narrated by: Zack McDermott
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)
Regular price: $28.50
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Publisher's Summary

The story of a young man fighting to recover from a devastating psychotic break and the mother who refuses to give up on him.

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. This was it - his big dreams were finally coming true. Every passerby was an actor; every car would magically stop for him; everything he saw was a cue from "The Producer" to help inspire the performance of a lifetime. After a manic spree around Manhattan, Zack, who is bipolar, was arrested on a subway platform and admitted to Bellevue Hospital.

So begins the story of Zack's freefall into psychosis and his desperate, poignant, often darkly funny struggle to claw his way back to sanity, regain his identity, and rebuild some semblance of a stable life. It's a journey that will take him from New York City back to his Kansas roots and to the one person who might be able to save him, his tough, big-hearted Midwestern mother, nicknamed the Bird, whose fierce and steadfast love is the light in Zack's dark world.

Before his odyssey is over, Zack will be tackled by guards in mental wards, run naked through cornfields, receive secret messages from the TV, befriend a former Navy SEAL and his talking stuffed monkey, and see the Virgin Mary in the whorls of his own back hair. But with the Bird's help, he just might have a shot at pulling through, starting over, and maybe even meeting a woman who can love him back, bipolar and all.

Written with raw emotional power, humor, and tenderness, Gorilla and the Bird is a bravely honest account of a young man's unraveling and the relationship that saves him.

©2017 Zack McDermott (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A startlingly moving memoir of mother and son, structural injustice and inflammable mental illness. Gorilla and the Bird is as piss-cuttin' a pieta as anyone has any right to hope for. And Zack McDermott - guy's a fleet, funny, unsentimental storyteller who manages that rare thing: He allows a damaged soul be found." (Kent Russell, author of I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son)
" Gorilla and the Bird will make you laugh, cry, and wonder what would happen if we were all brave enough to tell the stories of our relationships with love and madness. I needed this book." (Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America)

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Help, hope & hilarity...

Zach Zach Zach.... how honest and wonderful was this book?!?!? Thank you for writing this. Thank you for not pulling any punches. Thank you for sharing every corner and frayed end of your emotional spectrum.

For those of you on the fence, there is no sugar coating in these pages. None. But who wants sugar on the rim of their double margarita?!??! Gross.

Zach’s story will have you spitting your coffee out of your mouth with hilarity, weeping with him and his struggle, and even tasting the sour-sweetness of bologna and cigarettes as you go down the twisted rabbit hole and into the rough neighborhood of mental illness.

If you have a loved one with mental illness and you’re looking for a laugh and some hope, Zach is here for you. He is brilliant as well as hilarious, and he gives you velvet lined, box seats into his psychosis.

If you love someone with a mental illness...

Main point = IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT! So don’t be an ass hole.

Love you Zach, love this book. Thank you.

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Highly Recommend

This memoir was one of the best I've listened to in a very long time. I sometimes feel on the brink myself and Zack is brutal honest with everything. It was calming to hear that I am not alone.

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  • Donovan
  • Kobenhavn, Denmark
  • 11-11-18

Encore , Bravo!

Knowledge is not prevention it is prediction, but it can be powerful. Thanks for an all star application of mind over mood. We need a sequel .


#PastMeetsPresent #Heartfelt #Animal #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

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thank you for your story

I enjoyed this book and really liked the author's voice. I'm currently dealing with my own mental disorders and found it pretty relatable and gave me hope. thanks for being brave and sharing your story.

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Beautifully written, poignantly told experience of bipolar

McDermont provides an excellent contribution to the “walk in my shoes”
literature about bipolar disease. Hats off to the gorilla and especially to the bird who offers a role model for hanging in.

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Wichitan reacts to Gorilla’s description of Wichita

I don’t think this is a book that you like or don’t like, but it is one that we should read. It’s one of those real stories with living and breathing human beings who are still existing, and living right now. It’s yet a story in progress. As a teacher retired from the Wichita school system, and having been a teacher of students with special needs, I understood the Bird’s work and the special person she is to take on these ‘incorrigible’ students, and could see how this strong and unique ability translated into the strength it took to support her bi-polar son. She represents true grit in her unquestionable love, and a unique talent for meeting her students where they are and with what they need. These skills translate to the determination and fortitude that she has instilled in her son. An autobiography of this nature is always best read by the author, and Gorilla does justice in narrating his Tory. It’s solid writing in the first person, about a difficult disease which has no cure. The conclusion left me on tenterhooks because it’s not conclusive. There is a lot more of the author’s story to come, and one can only hope and pray for the best for him.

The description of Gorilla and Bird’s relatives was spot on, but only for a limited portion of Wichita. The image of Wichita was difficult for me because my experiences, friends, and relatives are not those iterated in the book. However, just like any city, the population definitely runs the gamut of the alphabet from A to Z. While I would like to see a better image of Wichita presented, I acknowledge this particular set of Wichitans does exist and thrive here.

I do recommend this book, and hope that people read it with an open mind and an open heart. It’s a terrible disease that one must continually monitor in order to thrive, and for the Gorilla, there’s a lot of life left to live.

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Thank You Gorilla for Sharing Your Story

Would you listen to Gorilla and the Bird again? Why?

Totally. I think I would gain more insight into bipolar disorder and I would love to laugh at him describing people like Jeremy and Gary. Laughed so hard in parts.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gorilla and the Bird?

His unbelievable relationship with his mother.

Which character – as performed by Zack McDermott – was your favorite?

Gary and Jeremy!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

For sure and I am bummed that I binged on it for 4 days. Now it's over ;-(

Any additional comments?

As the wife of a BP2 husband, Gorilla's insight into his medications, his spiral into psychosis and mania, his recognition of the symptoms, and his relationship with his advocate, i.e., his mother were all priceless. Sick people often need advocates to help them navigate everything. This is true for cancer patients, people with addictions, and mental illness. The list goes on and on. I could relate to much of what Gorilla told in his story, and I learned a lot of tips for my own relationships. Thank you for a very honest and funny account of your life. Stay well!

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Amazing Grace, your Mom beat 800lb MeToo?

MeToo. Best voice (perfect inflection-I thank U Nick-you are the best)I cried through to end.

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Mesmerizing

I connected with Zack's story in such a way that I listened to the book twice.

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Eye-opening, entertaining and heartwarming

This is an incredible story, raw with emotion and full of love. I was laughing and cringing at the same time and I didn't want to put it down.