cover image Men Have Called Her Crazy: A Memoir

Men Have Called Her Crazy: A Memoir

Anna Marie Tendler. Simon & Schuster, $29 (304p) ISBN 978-1-6680-3234-3

Multimedia artist Tendler (The Daily Face) recounts her struggles with mental illness and low self-esteem in this devastating personal history. She begins in 2021, when, at 35, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital at her therapist’s urging. From there, she weaves in flashbacks that describe, in wrenching detail, her teenage experiences with self-harm (“I am not sure how I landed on cutting... but I am certain I would have found my way to injurious behavior eventually”) and a high school relationship that made her “a girl who, well into adulthood, would contort and conform to the desires of a man, overlooking his easy dismissal, and dampening self-worth, all to be loved.” Much of the account examines a string of failed romances that eroded Tendler’s self-worth, including teenage sexual experiences with much older men. (Her marriage to comedian John Mulaney is only ever alluded to.) She also discusses daily life in the psych ward, and the peace brought to her by her dog, Petunia, before she checked in. After contextualizing her depression as a partial by-product of a turbulent childhood spent witnessing blowout fights between her parents, Tendler ends on a hopeful note (“Life has in no way gotten easier..... But I’ve become sturdier”). In a sea of mental health memoirs, this stands out. Agent: Meg Thompson, Thompson Literary. (Aug.)