One summer evening Michael Greenberg's daughter Sally was brought home by the police after rushing into a busy road in Greenwich Village, convinced she could halt the oncoming traffic. The mania had come over her abruptly: her habit of poring obsessively over poems late into the night or listening to music on her battered walkman for hours could be considered 'normal' teenage behaviour, and yet it was a clue to the internal tumult that was about to overwhelm her. Now her behaviour had moved from the realm of the adolescent and eccentric to the acutely unstable, and she needed professional help. And so just a few days later Michael found himself in the surreal world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's most sweltering months. Confused, anxious, looking for answers, he asked himself whether he was to blame. Perhaps this illness had been Sally's genetic inheritance. Perhaps, as a writer, he hadn't been able to provide the secure and stable home she needed. Sally's mother had left some time ago, finding life in the city suffocating, and his new wife, Pat, had not found it easy building a relationship with his clever, headstrong daughter.
But looking around him at the other concerned families in the waiting room, he began to realise that the answers to his questions were not so simple. Touching, memorable and unsentimental, Hurry Down Sunshine is partly an insightful exploration of what mental illness has come to mean in our culture, and partly a moving memoir about how one family learns to cope with the prejudice and uncertainty that faces those affected by it.
A native New Yorker, Michael Greenberg left school at sixteen and went to Argentina, where he was a reporter during the infamous Dirty War. Since 2003 he has worked as a columnist for the Times Literary Supplement. His fiction and essays have appeared in many publications including the Boston Review, where he is a contributing editor. Michael Greenberg lives in New York with his wife and son.