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And Then the Cow Was Drownded

By: Paul Thanas

A man with a difficult past, Steven Lansky, without a wife, after a divorce that could not help any, tells of his schizophrenia. Humorous and pathetic, poignantly real, he understands how mental health insurance saved him and childlike art became his passion. Steven invites criticism, using the Gita to identify with, as the warrior Arjuna takes on a personal significance, while consuming pressure, from a hallucinogenic nightmare in a House of the Rising Sun epic self-determinate haze. Bicycling and sailing rescue him. Tormented by relationships, brotherly love, even by bloody memories of an unfortunate incident and then an accidental spell in a far-off city--from New Orleans, to Boston, to Memphis and the North Country, whatever the setting--the lush, overwhelming calm, pervades a taut emotive narration. Lovers, women, give heartfelt adoration, but not enough to satisfy. This Bildungsroman moves through conscious memory as it progresses visually in a paradigm parallel to Irving Stone's biography of Vincent van Gogh, whose art Lansky's resembles. His nom de plume, or sobriquet, Jack Acid precedes him like the famed immortal charioteer Krishna. Torrid sex and various characterizations inhibit his telling the story straight. The story, dictated to a muse elevates artifice to art.


About the Illustrator

Steven Paul Lansky was raised by a loving family in Cincinnati, Ohio. He grew up sailing and bicycling and was unaware of how he would become an artist, harmonica player, and world traveler. First diagnosed with schizophrenia after his freshman year at Harvard, where he had been admitted at age 17, Lansky found art in psychiatric hospitals. He discovered his alcoholism in psychiatric treatment with the help of a generous writer with whom he apprenticed in his late 20s. By then, he had regional notoriety for his urban poetry. At 30, he began a career working with people with mental health conditions, at first as a vocational rehabilitation supervisor and later as a field-worker. During this time, he hosted a weekly radio show on a local NPR affiliate where he shared spoken word and music. In his early 40s, he earned an MA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in creative writing. Since then, he has taught writing, traveled, and published six books, including the audio novel "Jack Acid," available on Spotify and Apple Music. As he was retiring, he earned an MFA from the low-residency creative writing program at the University of Tampa.


"Why read this book? Well, the first is easy, it's a look through a disturbingly clear window into the schizophrenia of gifted thinker, athlete, harmonica player and writer. And whether you're a friend, medical worker, or simply a curious reader, Steven Paul Lansky shows it all: his hopes, dreams, crashes, broken relationships, family turmoil, and his long journey to a productive life. As a reader, I came to see it as a book of triumph. The second reason surprised me. The more I read, I came to see Steven Paul Lansky's life, all twisted up by mental disease and an epic struggle to find balance through evolving therapeutic meds and therapy, had essentially the same elements as my own life and other "normal" folks. We all struggle through conflict, ego power, love dynamics and jobs in the ultimate pursuit of happiness. I came to see that, sure, schizophrenics experience frightening breaks with reality that leave lots of emotional blood on floors all over their lives, but so do the rest of us in our own ways and to various degrees. So in that sense, And Then the Cow Was Drownded is relatable and shockingly universal. Who knew?"
—Jene Galvin, Retired educator

In the novel, AND THEN THE COW WAS DROWNDED, Steven Lansky portrays his life, a life of remarkable events and adventures, but one often pervaded with the delusions of schizophrenia. The reader experiences the world through his eyes, a world peopled with both meaningful and disappointing relationships, frustrations, highs, lows, humor, adventure, successes and failures, but we are aware of the hallucinogenic lens of his mental illness. We experience his world intimately, from the freedom and danger of cross country biking, to months spent in mental hospitals. We feel his heartaches and celebrate his many accomplishments. These include his success as a writer of prose and poetry, several years as a social worker, the host of a radio show, and even Poet Laureate of Over the Rhine (a Cincinnati neighborhood). The reader is offered a rare glimpse into an incredible mind.
—Donna Perzigian, retired ninth grade English honors teacher Walnut Hills High School

What a wild and schizophrenic (bike) ride through the back roads and pages of the author and creator's (or is it authors and creators?) mind(s). Schizophrenia is front and center in this narrative of artistic growth and struggle against medication going back to the 1970's. And there's artwork to prove it! From time to time, you may want to put down And Then the Cow Was Drownded, but you'll be eager to pick it up again and keep reading.
—Eric Goodman, author of 
Curveball and Cuppy and Stew




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