While a junior at Davidson College, Alex McKeithen went to Europe to study
painting. A summer in the Tuscan sun, listening to U2’s Joshua Tree helped fuel his creativity. McKeithen’s inspiration exploded into full blown mania, however, when he reached Paris. Believing he is the seventh angel whose sole purpose is to announce the Apocalypse, McKeithen runs through the streets of Paris, leaving articles of clothing at various cathedrals until, completely nude, he is arrested at the Arc de Triomphe.
To his jailors, McKeithen will say only that he is the seventh angel. This ultimately lands him in Maison Blanche, an asylum near Paris where the food is surprisingly good and McKeithen is convinced God is communicating with him via messages on sugar packets.
With the help of his parents, he eventually returns to North Carolina and is admitted to Duke University’s Medical Center. Though the food there is nothing to write home about, he finds himself under the care of a doctor who correctly diagnoses his bipolar disorder and gently guides him back to sanity during late night visits clouded by cigar smoke.
McKeithen’s vivid and often humorous recollections of his journey from the
brink are paired with marginalized facts and figures demonstrating his state of excessive mental activity. His account of his own mental state, as well as observations of fellow patients and caregivers make for a riveting read.
Alex McKeithen’s memoir is brave and moving—and, at times, wildly funny. His observations are so finely etched, so exact—so beautiful, ultimately—that, as satisfying as the last pages are, I did not want this book to end."
- Abigail DeWitt, author of DOGS
This is one of the most gripping memoirs I’ve ever read. With a style that is wry, ironic and uniquely his own, Alex McKeithen takes us with him on a journey into madness. If you open this book, you’ll have a hard time putting it down."
- Frye Gaillard, author of The Dream Long Deferred
There is something rare and beautiful about this memoir. Margin notes demonstrate the broad scope of the author’s curiosity and imagination, and wonderfully original sketches by the author complement the story. The writing is spare. The Seventh Angel will burrow into your heart and stay there a long, long while."
- Judy Goldman, author of Losing My Sister
Alex McKeithen is a graduate of Davidson College. He studied painting at Frankfurt’s Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste (art academy) and later received his Masters in Typography and Design from the Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem, The Netherlands. McKeithen lives in New York City and has designed for clients such as Rolling Stone, Forbes and The Source magazines, The Source Hip Hop Awards, The United Nations and HBO/Cinemax as well as the NBA. The Seventh Angel is his first book.