Storm Large is not a stranger to anyone with tenure in Portland's music and arts scene. Her new memoir, Crazy Enough (Free Press, 288 pages, $25), painstakingly details how Large came to be the bombastic Amazonian the Rose City adopted as its own. She perfected her stage persona in Portland, yet her hometown of Southborough, Mass., is where Large spent her formative years—time spent in the shadow of her schizophrenic, bipolar mother, Suzi.
Large's relationship with her mother consumes the majority of her memoir, and rightfully so. It's their fraught relationship that guides Large through her youth and helps define her early career. Crazy Enough can be easily read as an attempt by Large to simply unburden herself of issues born of a mother who was in and out of hospitals and psych wards, yet it's much more than that. Large's relationship with her mother is dispiriting—as Large writes, "When someone asked what our parents did for a living we'd say, 'Our dad works but our mom is broken'"—but it's also powerful.
Crazy Enough is, thankfully, at least as much Running With Scissors as it is The Dirt. Throughout the stories of Storm's mother trying to poison everyone—herself included—with a dinner of "chicken soup, oatmeal and Calgonite dishwashing powder," Crazy Enough rambunctiously details struggles fitting in throughout high school, an awakening in New York art school, the clichéd drug-addled years in San Francisco and Large's stint on the reality singing show Rock Star: Supernova. For every Large accomplishment, her mother is there to eclipse her daughter's success with another made-up disorder or hospital stay.
Large's relationship with her mother is volatile and full of resentment, but Large shows sincere love for the damaged woman who raised her. One instance finds Large struggling to compose herself at her mother's funeral; another sees her break down at the sight of her long-lost aunt's uncanny resemblance to Suzi. We're touched when Large reveals—perhaps surprising herself—just how much she loved Suzi.
Crazy Enough easily could have been only a tawdry romp based on the ever-so-trite trinity of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Thank God it's not. What we see in Large—her raw emotions, her vulnerability—lends an inalienable sincerity to her life's story and, hopefully, some satisfying closure to her relationship with her mother.