If you're looking around for a literary stocking stuffer this holiday season, you could do much worse than this. Steve Lopez's The Soloist manages to combine newspaper-column-style-reading-ease with a feel-good-redemption-narrative with a fairly nuanced portrayal of schizophrenia and life on L.A.'s skid row. In his depiction of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, the former Julliard student turned skid row resident, Lopez produces a deeply affecting sketch of a tragedy ameliorated, but not overcome.
Lopez does an excellent job of driving home the heartbreaking frustration and anguish caused by mental illness, while offering an endorsement of the "recovery model" of mental illness treatment as advocated by doctors like
Mark Ragins, of The Village in Long Beach.
The adapted film, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr., will be out soon as well.