A riotously funny saga of institutional insanity, based on the author’s association with the notorious psychiatrist R. D. Laing
Despite massive literary success, Sidney Bell feels perpetually unsatisfied and suffers unexplained physical ailments. Desperate to straighten out his twisted life, anxiety-ridden Sid seeks help from experimental psychiatrist Dr. Willie Last, whose therapeutic methods involve hallucinatory drugs such as LSD and trading places with his patients. After a tumultuous first trip, Sid ends up at Conolly House, a radical hospital for young schizophrenics where he serves as a “barefoot doctor.” From there, Sigal launches readers on a sardonic, rambling journey through a fantastic breed of insanity.
With his freewheeling, ecstatic prose, Sigal spins a manic psychological quest into a telling portrait of a society in the grips of a turbulent decade. Zone of the Interior is a subversive and uproarious search for clarity and comfort in an increasingly mad world, grounded by an unforgettable narrator.
Clancy Sigal was born and raised in Chicago, the son of two labor organizers. He enlisted in the army and, as a GI in occupied Germany, attended the Nuremberg war crimes trials intending to shoot Herman Göring. Although blacklisted and trailed by FBI agents, he began work as a Hollywood agent on the Sunset Strip, hiding in plain sight and representing Humphrey Bogart, among many others.
Sigal moved to London in the 1950s and stayed in the UK for thirty years, writing and broadcasting regularly from the same BBC studios that George Orwell had used. During the Vietnam War, he was the “stationmaster” of a London safe house for American GI deserters and draft dodgers. For several years, he collaborated with the radical “anti-psychiatrists” R. D. Laing and David Cooper, with whom he founded Kingsley Hall in London’s East End, a halfway house for so-called incurable cases.
Sigal’s most recent book was the memoir Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal, and Raging Egos (Soft Skull Press, 2016).