Alex McKeithen: Designer as Author

Alex designed the cover for his memoir

In 1988, the graphic designer Alex McKeithen was a junior at Davidson College in North Carolina, venturing abroad to Europe to study painting—every art student’s dream. He spent a productive, creative summer in Tuscany, painting and listening to U2’s The Joshua Tree on his Walkman. McKeithen planned to continue his studies in Paris. Instead he spent his semester abroad in an asylum, believing he was the seventh angel, whose sole mission it was to announce the Apocalypse.

“The songs were melodic and cryptic and pushed me higher and higher,” McKeithen says of The Joshua Tree. “I felt the lyrics were meant just for me—secret messages from God. I began to think I was somehow ‘special.’ With Bono and U2 in my earphones, I was elated. Song lyrics were riddled with hidden meaning. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ signified the yet unfulfilled search for my special purpose. At the height of mania, I believed U2 would also play a part in the apocalypse—the four angels of the apocalypse at the four corners of the earth holding back the wind and sea to keep man safe until a time when they would let the forces go.”

McKeithen’s memoir, The Seventh Angel (Lorimer Press), deals with his manic escalation and his time spent in a Parisian mental institution. It is brave and at times even funny. It’s written in the present tense, so you experience his full-blown manic episode—McKeithen running naked through the streets of Paris, leaving pieces of his clothing at cathedrals throughout the city until he arrives fully nude at the Arc de Triomphe, where he is quickly arrested.

McKeithen’s parents make their way from North Carolina to his institution, Maison Blanche, to spend time with their son. With their help, he is able to return to the States and is admitted to Duke University Medical Center, where he spends several more months in recovery. After many late night visits with his psychiatrist, McKeithen relinquishes the belief that he is the seventh angel. With intensive family therapy, he is able to leave the hospital and reboot his life.

“Writing the book was definitely cathartic,” McKeithen recalls. “I had carried it all in my head for 22 years and it poured out—everything coming out with all of the details crystallized and stored in my mind, just waiting for me to hack and peck my way on the keyboard. Maybe too dramatic, but it felt great to let go of all the painful experiences and get it all on paper.”

McKeithen continues, “I thought I’d never write anything else beyond the Humanities papers I wrote at Davidson. Now it makes sense to me that I would want to tell the story. As a graphic designer, I am in tune to details and storytelling using type and image, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to use words in much the same way. And as with graphic design, the biggest challenge was to not censor myself or tense up. I worked quickly, knowing I could smooth out the kinks later. My design often follows the same approach.”

I was anxious to learn more about McKeithen’s post-Duke experiences, and was pleased to learn that he did, in fact, return to Paris after graduating from Davidson, and enjoyed his unofficial junior year abroad painting in Paris. He later studied painting at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste.

Graduation day with McKeithen’s sister and parents

“A year after graduation, I got a job teaching English at a Parisian university and followed my teacher, Jonathon Robinson, to Angers to continue learning from him,” McKeithen says. “He had a big influence on me, exposing me to the work of Elmer Bischoff, Georg Baselitz, Markus Lupertz, Hermann Nitsch, Martin Kippenberger, and others. Kippenberger is still a favorite of mine. I like that he is a fine artist whose work often comes very close to being graphic design. His work, which is loose and integrates image and type well, does inform and inspire my design.”

From 2000 through 2002, McKeithen studied with Karel Martens at the Werkplaats Typografie, a two-year master’s program in the Netherlands that emphasizes both practical and self-initiated projects. He says of the experience, ”The WT only had eight students when I was there, with three mentors (Karel Martens, Wigger Bierma, and Melle Hammer). The school was/is housed in a mid-sized brick building that was formerly a radio station. I was in the basement next to the ping-pong table and aquarium. We ate lunch together every day with all pitching in a little money and switching off the lunch purchase days. Karel would sometimes complain about how far the money had gone! It was an amazing place.”

Karel Martens, Wigger Bierma, and the Werkplaats Typografie

McKeithen has since designed with Keith Godard, freelanced at publications including Rolling Stone and Forbes, and served as a design director at Madison Square Garden. When I ask him about his Paris manic episode, he simply says, “I know I’ll never experience happiness that extreme again, and I’m sure I‘ll never know pain that intense either.”

 

Illustration by Alex McKeithen

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158 COMMENTS

  1. thanks for the numerous responses of encouragement and insight… so many that ‘imprint’ thought it was spam, but it was a true outpouring of support. thanks a lot. the book can be ordered at: theseventhangelbook.com

  2. Alex, I bought your book last week at 3:00 p.m. and finished it at 11:00 p.m. I could not put it down! I was sort of on the sidelines when this episode was happening, but I felt very close to your family and suffered through it with all of you. You tell your story so vividly. Manic depression is a familiar term in our family and, even though it’s now called bipolar, the language doesn’t really clean it up. It must have taken a lot of courage to summon up these memories in such deetail, but the story needs to be told. Most people have no idea what we know to be true about the disease. … Congratulations on a book well written, vivid in its depiction of the special turn of events in your young life, and the strength to write it all down. I feel sure the writing was therapeutic for you, and hopefully it will be so for the hundreds who will read your story. … You have the gift — write us another book soon! … Millie Kincaid

  3. My cousin Alex is the most talented, well-traveled artist that I know, and he’s also a genuinely nice guy. I’m looking forward to better understanding what he experienced, and I applaud him for his courage and transparency in writing his memoir. 

  4. An honest and heart-touching documenting of an inner processing and profound feelings of an tatented man who struggles with his unbalanced brain chemistry.  Very very impressed.  Being a psychiatrist, I am even more appreciative and touched by thsi book.
     
    Dr. JP Chen
     

  5. I’m looking forward to reading it. As a future psychiatrist, i enjoy to ear from people like alex who passed through those intense episodes and can now put words on them. It not only help us understand our patients, but also help everyone  understand this terrible disease that is, as you know, not that rare.
     

  6. We all experience reading unforgettable experience.  Reading books is my favorite thing since my childhood.  Now I have a friend who wrote a book about his life experience.  Knowing who he is, a gifted artist, I would imagine that he must have a way to view his experience in life.  He shared his excitement about his book coming out, almost like a dad expecting his baby.  Probably true.  It must have been a result of his painstaking work.  Scientists and clinicians write books about medical conditions of their patients based on their studies. It is uncommon to come across a book on anecdotes of personal life from personal point of view. In this case, it was written by a gifted artist, dear friend of mine Alex McKeithen. I am looking forward to getting his life experience shared through reading his book.  I am very certain that his courageous openness to share his experience in life gives readers a glimpse of life experience in a clear perspective and would inspire all of us to live life with hope and dream again.  

  7. Knowing that Alex is gifted in many ways, such as artist, graphic designer, being a friend and others, and now to have had the recall and perseverance to complete The Seventh Angel is a major accomplishment.  As painful as it has been for me to read all that he went through, although I already knew most of what happened, I am so very pleased that he has written about his horrendous experience for his own catharsis and also to possibly be helpful to other people.  Here is a huge congratulations for a difficult task superbly done.
    I could not be prouder!!

  8. Welcome back from the abyss.  Now I understand your compassion and kindness for Carrie.  We look forward to your reading in November, and also our reading your book.   

  9. As creative as Alex is with his art, graphic design and especially his inquisitive mind, I can only imagine how good his writing is.  It’ll be a great read.

  10. Congratulations on the memoir Alex!  I look forward to reading it – and am happy to hear that you are well and thriving!  Takes lots of courage and support to share your struggles and I know you have plenty of both!  Best wishes for a successful first print run (and second, third ….movie and beyond)

  11. As a fan of the McKeithen family, I look forward to reading Alex’s memoir.  I was unaware that bipolar has touched their family, as it has so many others.  How courageous to tell this story.

  12. Alex, praying for the success of your new book. I have known your sweet sister Ashley for many years and think the world of her. As an artist myself I am intrigued by your background and I look forward to reading your personal journey. Blessings, Caroline

  13. How inspiring for all creatures, great and small! (Some greater than others, don’t you know.) Cannot wait to settle in with this sweet book and my sweet milk.
    xo, Crooksie B.

  14. If I go manic I’d want to be listening to U2 naked in Paris. God does speak through music, I am sure of it. Alex, congratulations on your book. Can’t wait to read it!

  15. I know that this event was very frightening and I look forward to reading Alex’s account of his time in Paris.  Congratulations to you Alex on the completion of your book!

  16. I’m looking forward to reading your book.  You inspire me with your intelletic and now your ablity to rebound and express yourself with your personal experiences, beliefs and life coaches.  Bring it on Alex…this is the next chapter in a unpredictable world and I’m excited that you decided to share your life.

  17. Alex is a greatstory teller. I had a chance to hear a bit about his stories in Paris and I look forward to reading the rest of his journeys. Congratulations, Alex, I can’t wait!

  18. Alex is a dear friend whom I have known since grammar school.  While in college, I heard speculative stories that he had been found wondering the streets of Paris while studying abroad.  I never knew the details until now.  Growing up, I saw Alex excel in everything he pursued.  Of our class superlatives, Alex was named “most likely to succeed”.  I am sure “The Seventh Angel” will prove this to be true, as can be witnessed in this talented artist’s personal odyssey with bipolar disorder.  As a psychology major, as well as a personal friend, I eagerly await a copy of Alex’s memoir.  Kudos Alex! 

  19. Alex, I am so proud of you for having the courage to revisit that period of your life.  I remember how happy I was when you were able to return to Davidson.  Congratulations!

  20. Wow. “The Seventh Angel” sounds like a fascinating, personal glimpse into struggles most of us can’t even imagine. I can’t wait to read it. What a triumph from a literary and personal standpoint. Congratulations on publishing and overcoming!

  21. I am thrilled for you Alex with the anticipation of this brave book, and the heights you must have climbed then, and now to tell it.  I see the Davidson graduation photo and think how we didn’t know any of what had occurred in the past 18 months.  May this time going forward be a beyond exciting part of the adventure of authoring.  Wow!

  22. i first met Alex in 1986 when we were both Sophmores at Davidson College. Since that time our friendship has continued to grow, strenghten and flourish. I have found very few people in my 40-something years who are as open, honest, creative, good-spirited, and down right charming as my friend, Alex. When I am in his company,it’s difficult for me to remember the extreme lows that he had to endure, because his resiliance and positive attitude are so remarkable and inspiring. Being a depression sufferer myself, I have always appreciated Alex’s understanding and empathy. I look so forward to reading “The Seventh Angel” and getting a glimpse into my dear friend’s psychiatric struggles and triumphs. If his book is half as engaging as the man, himself, I know I won’t want to put it down.

  23. Alex ,
    You should be so proud of this accomplishment. i know your family and friends are! i cannot wait to read your story. I look forward to seeing you in Charlotte at a book signing event:)

  24. I had the pleasure to meet Alex 19 years ago when I was in the States for a period of six months, with a scholarship in social assistance. I found Alex to be a very pleasant person, jovial and lively.  He shared to me his experience in Paris and now, years later, I found out that he wrote a book and not every book. Frankly, I am glad he found this way for opening his thoughts and feelings, and more than this I am glad that he followed his thought and desire and successfully completed what may at one time, it seemed a dream. I salute him for having the courage to open pages of his life to a whole world, pages that many others will keep well hidden. I would be very pleased to read his book. I am happy for you Alex!

  25. I am so proud of Alex and the publication of his book.  I am his friend and the first person I have ever encountered with manic episodes.  I find it truly inspiring that he is sharing his innermost personal story with the rest of us so that we may become aware and understand the core of what many people suffer with.
     
     
    personal story with us so that the rest of us may have the ability to become aware and 
     

  26. I’ve known Alex since we worked together at Rolling Stone. Ever since we been great friends and have continued to keep in touch over the years. I’m eagerly awaiting the rlease of his memoire. I can’t wait to read it! I know it will be captivating and amazing!

  27. I’ve known Alex for more than a year now. And within that small capsule of time I have seen him blossom into a more beaming bright light. He illuminates with happiness from within, but also with a strong spirit that he will win no matter what. Just this brief article has me captivated and more so overexcited to see just how monumental this book is going to be. My highlight was the Parisan adventure-the story so eloquently and elaborately told. Paris has always been the place I feel will be a rebirth and I know if Alex had to go back the person he is today-it would welcome him with open arms! Congratulations my friend and always remember, “You will never run out of possibilities unless you limit them yourself.” I can’t wait to grab my copy!!!

  28. I was with my cousin in Europe during that time. BUT I never knew what was happening. Paris struck me as miserably pretentious, yet Alex was so damned happy. Then I got a call from our school… Alex was at a psychiatric hospital outside of “gay-Paris,” and my aunt and uncle were flying across the Atlantic. Obviously I have seen Alex plenty since, but I canNOT wait to read the details of all that alluded me that fall and winter. I look forward to experiencing his delightful personality on every page. Kudos to you, cuz’!

  29. Can’t wait to read the book. As many others have said, Alex was so well liked by everyone in high school and was a super nice guy from a wonderful family. It takes much courage to write about such personal, difficult events. I hope it will help me better understand this illness. Thanks Alex for sharing.

  30. Although many people struggle with bipolar disorder, very few have both the ability and courage to share their experience with the rest of us. I’m very much looking forward to reading Alex’s story, and expect that it will provide an invaluable and unique perspective.

  31. I have known Alex since second grade.  His father was my soccer coach in high school.  I too have only hear “rumors through the grapevine”.   I am looking forward to reading my friend’s account of what he experienced.

  32. Having been friends with Alex for something like 18 years, I hope I have provided the inspiration for at least  a chapter or two. We’ve had a lot of fun together, and I hope I have been a help when things weren’t so fun for Alex. Hope the book is a big success and I can’t wait for the movie to come out!

  33. Alex is a great storyteller.  He has that unique ability to transport you to a time and place of his choosing.  I have heard bits and pieces of this fascinating part of Alex’s life so I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

  34. Knowing Alex when he was young before his Paris episode, I am even more interested to read his book and get to know the Alex today. His obstacles and experiences seem to have unfolded another view on life which I find very interesting. Congratulations Alex!

  35. Alex’s journey proves that with the help of family and good friends we can overcome almost anything that is thrown at us.  Very encouraging………

  36. I can remember vividly the night my brother called home and informed us that soon we would reconnect with him in Heaven.  We knew then that something had gone terribly askew.  That was the beginning of a hellish adventure for my entire family.  Reading about the actual events that lead up to that night and the days thereafter are heart wrenching but informative and fascinating none the less.  This book is a must read for anyone who has suffered from bipolar disorder or has a loved one who has battled its demons.  I am very proud of the courage and perseverance that it took for my brother to compose this engaging piece of literature.

  37. In the word’s of the late, great Chuck Brown, “It don’t mean a thing if it don’t got that go-go swing.” It is easy to see that this author/artist has lived the profound swing of life vividly and deeply and gone to the outer edges of the human experience. Thank you for taking us there. The world is a better place because of people with the vision and gifts to paint the pictures of these experiences.

  38. As a sibling of someone who suffers from Bipolar, I look forward to reading Alex’s memoir!  I must admit, I have been to quite a few destinations to bail my brother out of jail… then haul him to various institutions up and down the east coast. However, unfortunately for me…I never went to Pairs!!  All joking aside, Manic Depression is a mental illness that effects the whole family.  It’s hell to watch someone you love slip away from reality…but as difficult as it is for their loved ones, it’s even tougher on them.  Alex clearly has come through the darkness and into the light. What a brave thing to do!  Thank you for sharing your madness…I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!!
     
     
     
     
     
     

  39. Both Alex and a cousin of mine, who also wrestled with a bipolar disorder-induced manic break which prompted a radical disruption in her life, display many of the same traits – brilliance, talent, creativity, sensitivity, and a desire to make the world a better place. I look forward to Alex’s memoir for insight into that intense firework mind exploding in ways the rest of us could observe yet not really understand.

  40. I remember being awed by Alex’s artistic talent in high school and then confused by all the rumors I heard afterwards.  Alex congratulations on being able to share your story–I very much look forward to reading it. 

  41. I think that Alex is a true artist in the world who is very gifted. He is a sincere and caring man who connects with people on a deep level. His willingness to share his story will be a great gift to every reader who desires to have a better understanding of the manic depressive condition that effects so many people today. 

  42. I remember when Alex shared that he was thinking about writing this book.  So many people have an idea that they can write a book….and so few actually do.  But, Alex did it…yea!!!  I can’t wait to read it from cover to cover.  It’s a brave venture to share something so personal…and I just know many people’s lives will be touched by this book.  I can’t wait to get it!

  43. I am looking forward to reading Alexs’ book. I’ve heard manic episodes described as a divine madness having delt with bi-polar disorder personally. This book sounds insightful and compelling. Thanks Alex for having the courage to write about it.

  44. Can’t wait to read this book.  Love the cover, and the story will be just as reflective… I’m sure.  Thanks for sharing your life, Alex.  What a gift to us all.
     

  45. Alex is a wonderful young man and a very talented artist. This is a brave book and I look forward to experiencing, with him, the pain and exhilaration of his battle, which those of us who know him are proud to understand he is winning.

  46. I know Alex since a couple of years, meeting him at a birthday party and he started to get coaching from me, it`s great to see, that he did this amazing step and wrote this book, he is really high talented and couraged artist, looking forward to read his book and see Alex again in November, when I`m coming back to New York and celebrate his success!!!!
     

  47. What a joy it is to read these words about Alex. I came to know Alex some time after his graduation, and I was able to help him with the writing of this extraordinary book. I don’t believe I have ever read anything more stunning, surprising, disturbing or fascinating than the opening section of Alex’s memoir. I have read the whole book in its various stages of development and recommend it with absolute confidence and enthusiasm to any reader…..Tony Abbott, Professor Emeritus of English, Davidson College.

  48. how awesome to “find” someone on fb from years ago and learn what one has been through and where they are now.  i too have known alex since junior high and wow, what a journey he has been on.  can’t wait to grab the book and read….glad to see alex is now enjoying his life and his work!

  49. I have known Alex since childhood.He has always been very creative and talented as an artist. I am looking forward to his book another part of his excellent work.

  50. I have to admit I am very intriged and can’t wait to read Alex’s book. I went to High school with Alex, but we didn’t really run in the same circles. I had no idea Alex studied in Paris. My mother is French, so my sister and I went to Paris often. Alex’s book sounds like it will bring back memories as well as insight on how the human brain works. Viva la France and all the craziness behind it. Congradulations Alex.
     

  51. I was a Davidson classmate of Alex and I cannot wait to read his story.  It promises to be both riveting and profound.  It is quite an accomplishment to write and publish a book.  I wish Alex much success with the book and his future endeavors.

  52. Thanks to Alex for sharing this gripping story.  I am please to know that your family helped you through — and that Davidson’s Humanities seminar helped form and perhaps inform your writing.  I look forward to reading your book.

  53. This is a remarkable and courageous book.  I was privileged to read it before publication because of my longtime friendship with Alex and with his father, a law partner of mine. Reading “The Seventh Angel,” is a vertiginous, harrowing experience because of Alex’s skill–through colorful but precise language and a first-person, present-tense point of view–in drawing the reader into his extreme manic episode.  You feel both the exhileration and the growing sense of panic.  Alex’s writing of his experience, which thankfully is now long behind him, was tonic and cathartic to him and a gift to the rest of us.

  54. Due to the “magic” of the Internet I met Alex… short conversations here and there… I can’t wait to read more… He’s been fortunate (in a sense), I would love to be able to say one day… “I know I’ll never experience happiness that extreme again…”

  55. I do not know Alex but his mother told me about his book.  I know people who have had manic episodes and I hope that by reading this book, I will better understand what they have had to deal with.

  56. What an incredible effort to get this story out! Alex has always and continues to be an amazing person. KUDOS for being so honest and brave. I cannot wait to read it! Kristie

  57. Alex’s courage and perserverance have always impressed me; I’m even more amazed by what it took for him to write this book.  Having read several excerpts he shared with me, I predict that just about everyone will find something that will help them – or assist them in helping someone else – in this well-written, gripping memoir.

  58. I have known Alex for over 25 years and have never heard more than rumors about this painful episode in his life. I am happy that he was able to write it and share and I am very eager to read his book.

  59. Very few people get the privilige of experiencing true ecstasy – suffering eventualities of both great joys and pains – and to learn from and to emerge with an ability to share it in human terms is a great gift. I look forward to reading “The Seventh Angel,” Alex’s insightful and candid account of his empassioned journey.

  60. I know Alex as a remarkable artist, insightful observer and courageous young man.  May his willingness to share his story serve to enlighten, inform and engage.

  61. I am immensely proud of our son Alex – for his remarkable courage and talent in sharing in piercing truth his amazing story – a truly riveting and inspiring (and brilliantly told) memoir.

  62. i have known Alex Mckeithen for about fifteen years. Finally he has come to terms with his adventurous life after keeping his ventures private. We worked together for a few years on a parking garage mural in his home town Charlotte and an exhibition for the UN’s Population Fund in recognition of a World of Six Billion in the very late 90s. He was a very enthusiastic collaborator bringing his personal ‘artistic’ free form ideas to the works. i remember his idea with the coloured string which I still keep keep in fond memory in identifying the objects in my Philadelphia and Cooper Union exhibitions by linking them to the dimensional exhibit models display to the wall photos. He had still has an individual exuberance. A few years back we went swimming in the Dordogne River. i only found out after i had swam the kilometre or so Alex half the time had been walking on the bottom to keep up with me. The young woman from the Dutch post office from Peckham is another story.
    i am happy for him that the book is out and i am keen to read it from front to back. every designer should and I hope there will be a continuing volume. Alex i am awaiting more surprises in your art and life
    Bon courage 
    Keith.
     
     

  63. During the last 10 years, I have learned MUCH more than I had planned to on the mysteries of the brain. I cannot wait to read this book. I got to know Alex at Davidson, mostly through our shared, simple enjoyment of throwing a frisbee–and Davidson basketball. Alex is a truly unique individual with amazing gifts. He’s also a survivor. Alex, congratulations. Yours is another example of how taking the proverbial road less traveled proves to be just a little more interesting.

  64. Difficult to imagine the courage that it took to write this book.  Alex is an incredible designer — if he’s half the writer, reading this book will surely be a journey worth taking!

  65. I remember being at Davidson and worrying about Alex during the time he was in Paris.  I am looking forward to reading the whole story and am impressed that Alex had the courage to put it into words.  Congratulations, Alex! 

  66. I’m very excited about the release of this book! As a neuroscientist, I’m aware that manic episodes as McKeithen describes from personal experience affect huge numbers of people (at least one in one hundred people may be classified by DSM criteria in their lifetime). Nearly everyone will have or know someone who has had their life dramatically altered by a manic episode. But those numbers completely fail to capture the reality that is the manic episode – the intensity and texture of the experience, the decisions that are made and thoughts that lead to them. This book is an incredibly important work for everyone to gain a window into the manic mental processes and imagine for a moment what that experience truly is.
     
    At least one out of every one hundred people experience psychotic manic episodes 

  67. I have known Alex since junior high. I had heard a bit about his troubles after high school and I am so glad to know he has made it through and is so willing to share his experiences. I am sure it will be a great read. I am so happy for Alex and can’t wait to read the book!

  68. It is an amazing story about a guy I grew up with.  I never knew the whole story and now am glad that I do.  I am happier, though, that my childhood friend has found more balance, beauty and truth in life.  god bless.  

  69. Looking forward to reading your book Alex – sounds like a brave memoir of a difficult time. Surprised there are no mentions of yoru days at Portfolio Center in the review above? 
     

  70. Alex was my roommate in Paris when I attended university there in the early 90′s. We rented rooms from a woman who had a wonderful apartment just steps from the Arc de Triomphe. We were the last two in the housing office to find accommodation and I remember the lady had asked for either two girls or two boys. Alex and I mutually decided to go ahead and take the apartment, despite having to share the facilities. It ended up working out just fine, Alex was a great roomie. I remember Alex as a funny guy and an amazing artist. At the time, Alex had told me he had been through a difficult time with his health. I look forward to reading this book and discovering the very personal story that lead up to the time we met. Congratulations Alex, and thank you for sharing your story.

  71. My wife and I admired Alex at Davidson, and are not surprised at the success and courage promised by his book. I look forward to reading it! Thank you, Alex, for enabling others to have the benefit of your experience.

  72. I met Alex on the Upper West Side of New York City a few years ago and was instantly drawn to his kindness and honesty.  There was always something very mysterious about him and I could never quite put my finger on it.  Over time we became friends and as most New Yorkers do, kind of lost touch after moving, however, I have constantly watched his amazing art work as it appears online. This memoir will give a brave and fearless look into the life of a brilliant artist, a graceful writer and a great person. So proud of him!

  73. I was in France the same time as Alex both during and after Davidson, albeit in different cities.  I cannot wait to read his story and fill in the details.  This was a brave one for him to write and, trust me, Davidson grads know how write well.

  74. I have friends and family members who have struggled with this disorder. In most cases there was nearly 2 decades of normal existence and normal behavior followed by what appeared to be a sudden onset of bipolar symptoms. Manic depression seems to be epidemic these days and it’s suspected that environmental triggers may be to blame. As someone fascinated by medical mysteries I hope the author gives insights into the earliest manifestations of his symptoms. Did the symptoms start before or after international travel? Are there clues to toxic environmental  exposures such as medical preventives or interventions. I suspect medical professionals and historians will enjoy reading McKeithen’s memoir for insights and specific anecdotes that will help further their research and understanding of this disorder.

  75. Bravo to Alex on the debut of his seminal work – and a fine autobiograpical effort at that to be sure.  I hope to be able to read “The Seventh Angel” myself soon.
    As an artist, Alex has been through the gamut of life experiences. If his works in design are any indication of his writing talents, I’m sure that the book will be a joy to read – laying out his victories and trials through life in vivid detail.

  76. I knew Alex during this period and was constantly amazed by his unusual but challenging perspective on things…that often got right to the truth, the heart of the matter. I can’t wait to read this book…
     
     

  77. I remember second semester Freshman year at Davidson, when a friend of my hall counselor’s mysteriously showed up and hung aroung the common room watching TV.  It was Alex McKeithen.  Little did I know he was just home from the episode in Paris that this book is devoted to; I was just miffed that he took over the space I had been using to woo a classmate over discussion of Old Testament texts late into the night.
    I ended up with poor grades in Religion and changed my major, and went on to woo another classmate, but soon Alex and I became good friends,  and I feel fortunate to have remained in touch in the intervening two decades and change.  
    Through all that time, though, I have only heard snippets of the story about his fateful episode in Paris.  I look forward to reading his account in The Seventh Angel, and am proud of him for going to the difficult places he must have had to revisit to bring this story to life for the world.

  78. Alex and I were good friends in high school, and I always knew he would do something special.  I heard about his troubles in college but am looking forward to getting a more personal look at what he experienced so I can marry it up with my memories from way back when.  Alex was one of the most well-liked and sincerely kind people at our school, and I was honored to be his friend. I look forward to reading his book and sharing it with others.  I’ve already pre-ordered it and am awaiting its arrival.

  79. It’s rare to find an artist who can traverse both sides of his/her brain with as much beauty as Alex clearly does. Can’t wait to read the entire book. The cover alone is breathtaking.

  80. I have a suspicion this book is a creative masterpiece. No doubt this is a powerful story that will positively influence others lives. So glad you put the time and energy and talent in to create this .

  81. Very interesting article.  I enjoy reading about people overcoming dark periods in their lives and persevering.  I’m looking forward to reading it. 

  82. I met Alex as I just started to study Graphic Design. He has inspired me as an artist and his works (Graphic Design, Collage and Drawing) are great. He is pure in heart and has a good sense of humor. I thank him for sharing his personal experiences.

  83. Alex has been a friend of our family since high school. He was often a topic of conversation at our house. We would hear bits and pieces of what was going on in his life during college. We worried about him. I am looking forward to reading his book. Alex is so talented and I am so happy that he has been able to let go and put his experiences down on paper. Congrats Alex!

  84. I am amazed with Alex sharing such an intense and what I think to be a very difficult journey to travel. However, sounds soooo..exciting and adventuresome! Give me more, give me more!!!
     

  85. Longtime friend and ex-roomate, Alex is one of the most inspiring and talented people I’ve met. His strength of charachter and passion for finding and creating beauty come from his loving upbringing, his observent eye, and the hardships he has endured. Through the years he has shared some of his stories with me — I am proud of his courage to share them with all. I have read some excerpts from his memoir and am amazed at his ability to sit down, keep his integrity and recapture his story in print. Alex is a brilliant designer who is equally as graceful a writer.

  86. I went to high school with Alec and heard about what he went through.  I also have friends who have been directly and severly affected by this disease.  I can’t wait to read this. 

  87. Having lived on the upper West Side of Manhattan for almost 40 years, I have met few people as interesting as Alex McKeithen. When I heard it through the grapevine that Alex was writing an autobiographical book, it intrigued me because he is well known in the neighborhood and we all know the intensity, intelligence, and creativity he brings to everyday life. My educated guess is that it will be a great read. I look forward to getting an inside look into the experiences that brought Alex to this stage of his life and how he survived what appeared to be a very prolonged and troubled period and yet now be as focused and motivated as he is.

  88. So looking forward to reading this one! The author is a brilliant artist and not too bad at expressing himself in written form either. I personally love the mental health memoir~Daughter of the Queen of Sheba was a favorite. Mania is so seductive–most of us get our fix through reading. Bravo, Alex, and long live 1988 through your story!
    Elisabeth