Schizophrenia and other mental health issues can be taboo, however, they are near to my heart as my mother and grandfather suffered from manic depression. Mental health wellness affects many families and those involved often can feel alone in a quagmire of uneasiness over what constitutes normal. I was really intrigued when I met an author whose book Chop Shtick took a comedic tone with this serious subject.
Sandra Yuen MacKay greeted me as I stepped into ROAM Gallery. It was my first time ever attending an artist meet and greet and I was nervous. My perception was artists are quite a sophisticated group and I might not fit in. Her friendly hello and hand shake put me immediately at ease, but her smile and sense of joy drew me in and compelled me to stop and chat.
I found out Sandra is an author as well as an artist. She has two books under her belt. She told me the subject matter she covers is unusual and her handling of it borders on being politically incorrect.
Chop Shtick: The Book
Sandra was right. Chop Shtick provided a lighthearted read that had me giggling or laughing out loud at times. A twisting tale combining art, artists, comical situations and unusual circumstances kept me reading right through the weekend. I really could not anticipate the book ending.
The story is from Cathy’s perspective and the setting is in the Vancouver east side. The Big Six, six struggling artists, wins the commission to build an upcycled sculpture. Cathy’s paranoia is externally focused and raises her awareness of the neighbors’ missing cat. The result is mayhem and out of the ordinary yet believable escapades. With Cathy’s self-discovery and the coming of age of her brother, the writer helps you imagine you are right there. Supported by a host of relatable and well defined characters Chop Schtik is real. Cathy and her brothers’ relationship matures from siblings to friends and it particularly resonated with me. I saw my own children’s journey to friendship. Her depiction of the stereotypical Asian parenting style brought my neighbors into my house to sit at my table.
Sandra Yuen MacKay: The Author
The more acquainted I become with Sandra the more I admire her courage and persistence. She has a Fine Arts Diploma from Langara College and an art history degree from the University of British Columbia.
Her first book, My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness details her own journey. She embraces who she is and is a mental health advocate speaking out on schizophrenia and self stigma issues. Sandra has overcome severe obstacles to become an artist and writer.
For More Information:
To purchase Chop Shtick click here.
Check out Sandra’s writings and art here.