“MAD MAN”…Synopsis

“MAD MAN” chronicles a personal journey through the creative corridors of advertising agencies and the locked wards of psychiatric institutions. It spans the 30+ years from the late ’60s to the New Millennium; from New York’s Madison Avenue to Hartford’s Institute of Living; from Baltimore’s blue collars to London’s High Teas; from the mind-numbing effects of electroconvulsive shock therapy to the Machiavellian challenges of an international business portfolio. It is about a search to find one’s self among the eclectic cast of life’s characters.

The book begins in New York’s Son of Sam summer of 1977, on the rooftop ledge of the 47th Street YMCA. Looking down on the torn and twisted vision of his lifeless body sprawled on the 47th Street macadam, the author ponders his lost grip on life, even as he fears losing grip of his tenuous hold on the rooftop fence post. The story quickly evolves from suicidal thoughts to suicidal reality, against the backdrop of a wife and three kids at home, an affair at the office, and a mind that is simultaneously seduced by sexual opportunism and tormented by unforgiving guilt.

The book then proceeds into the dark hole of intensive psychiatric care. The reader will enter the locked wards of New York’s Bellevue Hospital, New Jersey’s Carrier Clinic, and Connecticut’s Institute of Living to experience the therapeutic effects of electroshock and the claustrophobic feel of straitjackets, padded rooms, cold wetpacks, and 24/7 “constant” supervision. We meet the characters that populate those worlds—characters who rekindle the author’s appetite for the edge and call up his recollections of the “relatively sane” world of advertising.

Ultimately realizing that the road to recovery is merely a circular track, the author wills himself off the mentally disabled list and returns to the potholes of real life—family, career, temptation, gratification, and a seemingly endless search for peace within himself. That search leads him back to his boyhood home, where a new relationship opens his eyes to alternative lifestyles and an entrepreneurial advertising agency offers fertile ground for his ultimate achievement of a degree of international success. Along that way, the author meets and marries the soul mate everyone should be so fortunate to find and, together, they relocate to London and savor the world.

This book is about the highs and lows of a life beset with self-doubt and survival instinct. It reflects on the characters and circumstances in a man’s life that give form to the narrative of that life. It will transport the reader around the world and into some of its darker corridors, all against the backdrop of the creative and chameleonic business of advertising.

It is a story of madness and Madison Avenue, told with the intensity of a William Styron, but leavened with the entertainment of a David Sedaris. To wit, the comment of an independent editor on reviewing an early draft: “I liked your sense of humor and felt you really captured the absurdity of some of the life situations you experienced, even though they might not have seemed funny at the time.”


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