A Private Artifact of Public Madness: Possums Run Amok
I suppose that Possums Run Amok is a memoir. But it reads more like some combination of notebook, fable, and primal scream. It is the fastest book I have ever read. One can picture the author’s fingers blurrily tapping her keyboard, putting down her mostly generalized memories as quickly as she can type, never pausing long to occupy any one moment, scene, or sensation—author as sheepdog, chasing and nipping at a pack that outnumbers her absolutely.
Lafayette tears though 1970s pre-teen delinquency more outrageous and idiosyncratic than that of Sable Starr or Lori Maddox, to penniless following of non-penniless strangers in country after country, to multiple years of institutionalization. In Possums Run Amok, Lafayette dashes through each stage, her younger self insisting on the joyous particularity of the horror that populates each of her days.
The highs are so high that, as Lora’s friends leave and her physical and mental health deteriorate, their loss is like a punch in the sternum. However, the fierce breeziness is replaced by an equally forthright account of encroaching madness and confinement.
Possums Run Amok occupies an important position on an unsteady precipice between private and public. Its events and perceptions—plenty wild enough to warrant the veil of secrecy—carry the power of thoughts that impose themselves unbearably on a person’s private consciousness. Yet the real power of Possums Run Amok is not that it brings private events into public light, but that it allows the throb of one person’s privacy to reshape the privacy of anyone fortunate enough to read it.
–ROBERT FROMBERG, LA REVIEW OF BOOKS, April 2022
"With Possums Run Amok, Lora Lafayette has delivered a kinetic, irreverent memoir retold as fearlessly as it was lived. It stuns with its clarity and disarms with its honesty. It is also heartbreaking in its humanity. Wry, incisive, and deceptively witty, Lafayette’s odyssey whisks us into adventure, while challenging us to reexamine our own definitions of freedom, self, and agency. A brilliant, daring book you won’t be able to put down, nor soon forget."
–Bobby Johnston, acclaimed film composer and author of The Saint I Ain't: Stories from Sycamore Street
"Lora Lafayette's Possums Run Amok is Huck Finn in a mosh pit, an indefatigably rapid tour from a wise and relentless narrator through more chaos and joy and madness and release in each paragraph than would seem possible for any book or any life. This important and necessary book is all you need to know about what happens when blinding energy beats repeatedly against the constraints of normalcy. Read this book."
–Robert Fromberg, author of How to Walk with Steve
"Possums Run Amok is hypnotic, pulsing forward with the intensity and blood of a racing heartbeat. Lora Lafayette's impressionistic and candid prose illuminates wild punk escapades, grim hitchhiking journeys, and devastating slips into mental illness. This memoir is a breathtaking and daringly original fever dream. I don't know another writer with such a remarkable ability to intertwine tragedy and ecstasy."
—Sarah Priscus, author of the forthcoming Groupies