America has begun to grapple with new ideas of mental health and wellness in the public discourse. Donald Antrim (Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, The Afterlife) continues the conversation by offering a new understanding of suicide as a distinct mental illness in his brave new memoir One Friday in April. He joined Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor of the New Yorker, to discuss the launch of this important and insightful new work.
One Friday in April
By Donald Antrim
Published by W. W. Norton
As the sun lowered in the sky one Friday afternoon in April 2006, acclaimed author Donald Antrim found himself on the roof of his Brooklyn apartment building, afraid for his life. In this moving memoir, Antrim vividly recounts what led him to the roof and what happened after he came back down: two hospitalizations, weeks of fruitless clinical trials, the terror of submitting to ECT—and the saving call from David Foster Wallace that convinced him to try it—as well as years of fitful recovery and setback.
One Friday in April reframes suicide—whether in thought or action—as an illness in its own right, a unique consequence of trauma and personal isolation, rather than the choice of a depressed person. A necessary companion to William Styron’s classic Darkness Visible, this profound, insightful work sheds light on the tragedy and mystery of suicide, offering solace that may save lives.
Donald Antrim is the author of three novels, including Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, and a memoir, The Afterlife. He has received awards from the MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo Credit: Marija Ilic
Deborah Treisman has been the Fiction Editor at the New Yorker since 2003. She is the host of the award-winning New Yorker Fiction Podcast, and the editor of the anthology 20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker. In 2012, she received the Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Contribution to Fiction.