Interesting Articles

Thursday, April 2, 2009

“The Soloist”

“The Soloist” by Steve Lopez chronicles the true story of a newspaper columnist (the author of the book) who develops a relationship with a homeless schizophrenic musician. In my time at Andre House, I have met many similar people and much of what the author describes of his musician friend and those around him could easily have played out at our building.
As we increasingly hear about in this economy, some people become homeless as an unfortunate result of unexpected events such as a lost job, home foreclosure… etc. Though these are sad stories that deserve our attention, this book addresses a different kind of homelessness. A majority of the people living on the street could be qualified as chronically homeless, and mental illness plays in for many who might be categorized as such. Of this population “The Soloist” gives a wonderfully dignified, complete, and realistic look.
The reader follows the author in his attempts to help his new friend, at times experiencing great joy and at other moments, extreme frustration. Throughout the book, we are filled in on the musicians past and what brought him to where he is now. It is a great reminder that every person has a story and that they were not always the person they are now. They have a family who was likely hurt, confused, and saddened by the changes in their loved one. Others may have come from broken families, may have never known their mother or father, may have been in survival mode from day one and may not know any other way. Every person is different and every person has a story. This book gives us one of the many stories out there and puts a human face on the chronically homeless – a population that many would prefer to have nothing to do with, but deserve our compassion and respect the same as anyone else. Though it is not a religious book, upon some reflection I also realized that in my relationship with God I am mostly the schizophrenic musician in a number of ways.
I highly recommend “The Soloist” for anyone who is interested in taking a closer look at the reality of mental illness and homelessness. I found it to be both insightful and inspiring.

“Steve Lopez puts a face on mental illness and in doing so shows us how friendship can alter the lives of both the disenfranchised and those who reach out to them. The Soloist is a poignant reminder that no life is insignificant. An utterly compelling tale.” - Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness


Aaron said...

You can find the trailer here (among other places, no doubt):

Matthew said...

Here's some interesting thoughts on Steve Lopez, his articles, and the NEGATIVE effect he had on skid row and its inhabitants. This comes from the Catholic Worker house that is on skid row.