Deborah A. Lott

Deborah A. Lott’s memoirs, essays, and reportage have been published in the RumpusSalon, the Alaska Quarterly ReviewBellingham ReviewBlack Warrior ReviewCimarron Review, the Los Angeles TimesStoryQuarterly, the Good Men Projectthe nervous breakdown, and many other places. Her family’s legacy of hypochondria was featured on NPR’s This American Life. Her first book, In Session: the Bond between Women and their Therapists, offered an unprecedented look at psychotherapy from the perspective of clients interviewed by the author. Her essays have been thrice named as “notables of the year” by Best American Essays. She teaches creative writing and literature at Antioch University, Los Angeles, where she serves as faculty advisor to Two Hawks She lives with her husband, Gary Edelstone, in Los Angeles.

All Books

Don’t Go Crazy Without Me

Deborah A. Lott

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

$16.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-815-1

$9.99 Ebook

Ebook ISBN: 9781597098144


Don’t Go Crazy Without Me tells the tragicomic coming of age story of a girl who grew up under the seductive sway of her outrageously eccentric father. He taught her how to have fun; he also taught her to fear food poisoning, other children’s infectious diseases, and the contaminating propensities of the world at large. Alienated from her emotionally distant mother, the girl bonded closely with her father and his worldview. When he plunged from neurotic to full-blown psychotic, she nearly followed him. Sanity is not always a choice, but for the sixteen-year-old, decisions had to be made and lines drawn between reality and what her mother called her “overactive imagination.” She would have to give up beliefs carried by the infectious agent of her father’s love.

Saving herself would require an unconventional reading of Moby Dick, sexual pleasure in the body that had confounded her, and entry into the larger world of political activism as a volunteer in Robert F. Kennedy’s Presidential campaign. After attending his last stop at the Ambassador Hotel the night of his assassination, she would come to a new reckoning with loss and with engagement beyond the confines of her family. Ultimately, she would find a way to turn her grief into love.


“Deborah A. Lott’s Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is funny, horrifying, and heartbreaking—and often surprisingly, all three at once. It’s an astonishingly vivid book, and to read it is to be caught up, just as the writer was, in an impossible, crazy, misfit family. Through grace and nerve and will, Deborah learns that you can’t “screw nature,” or “stop time,” as her father tried to do, “but you could turn your grief into love.” This writer’s love for her deeply screwed-up family is unforgettable. As the best memoirs do, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me makes this writer’s story belong to all of us.”—Mark Doty, National Book Award Winner, author of the memoirs Firebird, Dog Years, Heaven’s Coast, and multiple volumes of poetry

Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is an extraordinary book. Deborah A. Lott writes about everything—parents, children, bodies, illness, sex, writing—with a voice that is utterly clear and beautiful and funny and original. This is a book written with honesty that will both break your heart and enlarge it.”—Karen E. Bender, National Book Award Finalist, and author of A Town of Empty RoomsRefund, and Like Normal People


Read “Marked” by Deborah A. Lott in The Writing Disorder!

My father’s hand shot up to his eyebrow, his finger poised there, as if he were about to stroke his brow. A gesture I’d always considered deeply imbued with his personality. The gesture he performed when pondering a problem. While reading a book or talking on the phone. Whenever he was thinking. Was he, or […]

Scoundrel Time Article, “MY CULTURAL APPROPRIATION” by Deborah A. Lott

“I recently saw photos of Instagram influencers who had darkened their faces in a misguided show of solidarity for Black Lives Matter. Their efforts made me cringe and reminded me of a time in my own life when what began as empathy resulted in an equally ignorant act of cultural appropriation. It started when I […]

KATU2: Don’t Go Crazy Without Me interview

Don’t Go Crazy Without Me tells the tragicomic coming of age story of a girl who grew up under the seductive sway of her outrageously eccentric father. He taught her how to have fun; he also taught her to fear food poisoning, other children’s infectious diseases, and the contaminating propensities of the world at large. […]

The Kathryn Zox Show: Ep. 1246: Childhood Trauma

Kathryn interviews Creative Writing and Literature teacher at Antioch University, Los Angeles Deborah Lott, author of “Don’t Go Crazy Without Me.” More than just the tragicomic coming-of-age story of a girl growing up under the magnetic spell of her outrageously eccentric father, she tells the story of an era. Lott’s memoirs, essays and reportage have […]

Jewish Journal: In ‘Don’t Go Crazy Without Me’ Deborah A. Lott Unpacks Being ‘Extraordinary’ Or Mentally Ill

The meaning of the intriguing title of Lott’s courageous and endearing memoir snaps into sharp focus. “My father and I were not ordinary,” she writes. “Oh no, we had formed an alliance around being extraordinary.” Even as a 4-year-old, she recalls, her mother used the Yiddish word tummel to describe “psychic commotion” that characterized her father, “noise […]

Spirit of Story: A Conversation with Deborah A. Lott

This spring the formidable Deborah A. Lott—author, editor and college instructor—will be visiting the Unlocking Your Story workshop. She’ll be offering us an inside view of the creative process behind writing her memoir Don’t Go Crazy Without Me, which just hit the shelves on April 7th! It’s a coming of age story of a girl who grows […]

How to Quiet the Inner Hypochondriac in the Era of Coronavirus

It’s hard not to read every throat tickle and stuffy nose as a possible foreshadowing of COVID-19, but a recovering hypochondriac helps to walk us back and separate true symptoms, from phantom ones. Deborah Lott, author of the New Book Don’t Go Crazy Without Me and author of the Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times titled I’m the […]


DON’T GO CRAZY WITHOUT ME by Deborah A. Lott reviewed in Brevity!

Deborah A. Lott’s Don’t Go Crazy Without Me: A Tragicomic Memoir is the story of a young woman’s coming of age and how she separates her own identity from her family’s. She recalls comedic and painful situations from her young childhood to teenage years. Read the full review here!

Don’t Go Crazy With­out Me: A Tragi­com­ic Memoir

Read­ing Deb­o­rah Lott’s mem­oir of her dys­func­tion­al upbring­ing feels like the lit­er­ary equiv­a­lent of rub­ber­neck­ing: her child­hood was a series of train­wrecks, but some­how you can’t stop turn­ing around to watch. Lott was the youngest of three chil­dren; her moth­er was sta­ble, but her father, Ira, was exces­sive. A hypochon­dri­ac, a fan­ta­sist, a nar­cis­sist – the man knew no bound­aries, nei­ther […]