September 2023

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult

By Maria Bamford
Celebrated comedian Maria Bamford is a winsome and unapologetic tour guide through her own life, reflecting on her search for achievement, belonging and healing.
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If you’re a Maria Bamford fan, you’ve probably already ordered your copy of her hilarious, devastating, fascinating new memoir Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult: A Memoir of Mental Illness and the Quest to Belong Anywhere. If you aren’t yet clued into her comedic stylings, you might look at the wide-eyed, beautiful woman on the cover and think, “What do I know her from?”

The answer is: loads of things, from stand-up specials to “Arrested Development” to “Lady Dynamite” to iconic Target commercials (or perhaps you’ve heard her in “Adventure Time” and “Big Mouth”). She’s an accomplished comedian who’s brought joy to countless people—and she also has from mental illness, having battled debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and bipolar disorder since childhood.

The author is a winsome and unapologetic tour guide through her life thus far, musing on her “splintered, discomfiting need to reveal all my thoughts and flaws—which is either radical honesty or narcissistic showboating” and sharing her hope that “if I can be grandstandingly open about something taboo, maybe someone else might feel a little less isolated by knowing my own sad story (and have a few laughs)?” Bamford reflects on the groups she’s joined in search of achievement, belonging and healing, including Suzuki Violin, Overeaters Anonymous and Debtors Anonymous. She’s also a self-taught expert in the work of Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) and Richard Simmons (Richard Simmons’ Never-Say-Diet Book).

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult is the definition of kaleidoscopic: In addition to loopy riffs, career insights and beautifully sad recollections of her mother’s illness and death, there are painfully honest chapters about the time period in which Bamford’s “mind/body had become a vibrating razor blade of electric psychic pain.” The resulting psychiatric hospitalizations were often grueling, but ultimately offered a hopeful path forward.

The importance of getting such help is central to Bamford’s story and at the heart of her hopes for readers. She writes that, rather than a book about triumphing over obstacles, Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult is more of a “series of emotional sudoku puzzles . . . I haven’t figured it out.” And no matter where readers are on their own puzzle-solving journeys, she wants them to internalize something the late Jonathan Winters said to her after her first hospitalization: “You just keep going, kid.”

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