In his early 20s, a lifetime of excess left Rick Moody suddenly stranded in a depression so profound that he feared for his life. A stay in a psychiatric hospital was just the first step out of mental illness. In this astonishingly inventive book, Moody tells the story of his collapse and recovery in an inspired journey through what it means to be young and confused, older and confused, guilty, lost, and healed. Woven through his own story, Moody also traces his familys paternal line, looking for clues to his own melancholyin particular to one ancestor, Reverend Joseph Moody, about whom Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote an archetypal story of shame called The Ministers Black Veil. In a brilliant display that is no less than a literary tour de force, Moody ties past and present, family legend, and serious scholarship into a book that will draw comparisons not just to recent memoirs by Dave Eggers and Martin Amis but to forebears like Nabokovs Speak, Memory.