Chris Rush (who identifies as gay, so this is my Rainbow Flag square) grew up in a family was outwardly prosperous and moral — staunch Roman Catholics with a thriving business and perfect parties on the weekends. Beneath the surface, his father was a raging alcoholic driving the business to the ground, and his “hostess” mother spent most of her time drugged or drunk or both. Rush’s siblings ran wild, experimented with and sold drugs, had sex, disappeared for months at a time. At 12 years old, Rush tried acid for the first time (courtesy of his older sister), and spent the next two decades trying to find meaning in the world. It’s kind of amazing he survived.
Shuttled from private school to private school, while his parents tried to force him to at least appear as “normal” as the rest of the family, Rush spent his childhood exploring his sexuality and whatever drugs he could get his hands on. This book holds back nothing — he traded sex for drugs among his brother and sister’s friends, then turned around and sold those drugs to his classmates. On several occasions, he hitches a ride west to live family members or their friends, never staying in one place for long.
Throughout it all, Rush talks about art and religion. His thoughts about and feelings for both really elevated this book above your typical “I spent most of the 60s and 70s wandering around the United States stoned out of my mind” story. A lot of the schools his parents sent him to were Catholic, where Rush tried to reconcile the priests’ teachings with the molestation that went on behind closed doors. He found art as a way to express himself, and the things he saw while high. He makes art now, for a living, and his stuff is as out there as you’d expect (http://chrisrushartist.com/).