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Ned Raggett (ned@kuci.org)

Costa Mesa, CA
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  • Jolly Lad: A Menk Anthology

  • By: John Doran
  • Narrated by: John Doran
  • Length: 10 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 41

Jolly Lad is a memoir about the recovery from alcoholism, habitual drug use, and mental illness. It is also about the healing power of music, how memory defines us, the redemption offered by fatherhood, and what it means to be working class.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Jolly shocking!

  • By Jackie Chesbro on 12-07-16

An often harrowing but truly humane experience.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-06-16

If you could sum up Jolly Lad: A Menk Anthology in three words, what would they be?

Thoughtful, truthful, humorous.

What other book might you compare Jolly Lad: A Menk Anthology to, and why?

It's not an exact comparison, but something like Jerry Stahl's _Permanent Midnight_ comes to mind -- a juxtaposition of extreme, self-destructive behavior with a normality that is itself not really normal at all, and a recognition of both facets from a removed point of view, or as removed as possible.

Which character – as performed by John Doran – was your favourite?

John as John, throughout! Retelling one's own story at such a length could not have been easy.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A shocked laughter at many points, but a human comedy in the old sense was what was at work. That and importantly, an empathy with a situation that is so very removed from mine in some respects, so utterly close to mine in others. Definitely gave me a lot of thought in terms of what shapes a person early on.

Any additional comments?

Speaking frankly but happily, having known John in a professional capacity for many years, and solely via online work, means I was already well inclined to the book. But the details provided, the thoughtful mental portraits and discussions, the character studies and more gave it a heft and an impact that other such stories might not have done. Some detailed memoirs like this create a connection where none would have existed beforehand. This, on several levels, deepened it instead.