Writer Sandra Allen received a fat manila envelope in the mail one day, filled with a stack of yellowed paper about a half inch thick. It was from their (Allen uses they/them pronouns) uncle Bob. Allen describes opening the envelope:
I flipped through the pages, which were still curled with the memory of his typewriter and stank like cigarettes. He'd used almost exclusively capital letters, with no paragraph breaks. Each page was a wall of text. There were colons everywhere, sometimes big rows of them, and the spelling indeed looked pretty bad. There were places where he'd typed letters on top of one another, or crossed things out and written other things in.
Allen had always heard about "crazy" Uncle Bob, but the manuscript they read that day opened up a window into the complex mind of someone living with mental illness. It began like this:
this is a true story of a boy brought up in Berkeley California durring the sixties and seventies who was unable to identify with reality and there for labeled as a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic for the rest of his life;
Allen turned Bob's typewritten manuscript into a novel. In "A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise," Allen alternates Bob's story with a narrative that puts Bob in the context of family history and American society in the 1960s and '70s.
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