The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness (Paperback)

My Brief Period of Madness

By Ned Zeman

Gotham Books, 9781592407217, 308pp.

Publication Date: July 3, 2012



A journalist faces his toughest assignment: profiling himself as he struggles with mood disorders, memory, shock treatment therapy, and the quest to get back to normal.
Twenty-five million Americans suffer from clinical depression. But Ned Zeman never thought he d be one of them. He had a great life and thriving career at Vanity Fair.

Then, at age thirty-two, anxiety and depression gripped Zeman with increasing violence and consequences. He experimented with therapist after therapist, medication after medication, hospital after hospital including McLean Hospital, the facility famed for its treatment of writers, from Sylvia Plath to Susanna Kaysen to David Foster Wallace. Zeman eventually went further by trying electroconvulsive therapy, aka shock treatment.

By the time it was over, Zeman had lost nearly two years of memory. He was a reporter with amnesia. He had no choice but to start from scratch, to reassemble the pieces of a life he didn t remember and, increasingly, didn t want to.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, profane and hopeful, The Rules of the Tunnel is a guttural shout of a book that defies conventional notions aboutmood disorders, unlocks mysteries within mysteries, and proves that sometimes everything you re looking for is right in front of you.

About the Author

Ned Zeman is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and has written for Newsweek, Spy, GQ, Outside, and Sports Illustrated. Two of his articles were finalists for the National Magazine Award, and he cowrote the screenplay for Sugarland, a film starring Jodie Foster. He lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness

“It’s brutally honest and actually quite entertaining, if watching someone go through mental hell can be entertaining. (It can.) He may have lost his memory, but it’s obvious he never lost his sense of humor.”
USA Today

“The classic assignment for a journalist is the profile — the detailed portrait of someone's motivations, psyche, hopes and dreams. Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman takes it one step further in his book, and profiles himself. Taking the same tact that he did with his stories about those who pushed the limits and died young, Zeman chronicles his wild time with depression, mood swings and shock treatment therapy.”
Los Angeles Times

Editor’s Pick, “a gifted writer, capable of the kind of cut-glass prose to be carried into sunlight and admired from all angles”
New York Times Book Review

Four Stars, “sobering, laugh-out-loud”
People Magazine

“In The Rules of the Tunnel…Zeman recounts his tumble down the rabbit hole of depression, and the therapy that would erase two years of memory, forcing him to use his skills as a reporter to reconstruct his life, and in the process re-examine what makes life worth living.”
Vanity Fair


“Ensconced in L.A., nurtured by a cadre of caring friends, Zeman experiments with psych wards, pharmacological cycles, and shock treatments by turns frightening and enlightening, and conveys his "melancholic demeanor" with tremendous wit and verve.”
Publisher's Weekly

“With unflinching precision and a welcome dose of gallows humor, the author catalogues his lifelong struggle with depression and numerous attempts to combat it. Zeman is a first-rate storyteller with a vast and glittering array of anecdotes from which to draw. He draws readers in with fresh, well-crafted tales of terror, anguish and occasional triumph. [The Rules of the Tunnel] is an exact, revealing and intermittently moving portrait of a talented but struggling artist.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Rules of the Tunnel is a marvelous piece of storytelling, racing forward at 110 mph and carrying you along by the hair. Zeman's writing is absolutely addictive. His portraits of people are quick and incisive, and the picture he paints of the media industry is hysterical, snarky, and apt. But it's Zeman's brutal honesty about himself and the wild ride he's been on that will win you over. This is simply a hell of a book.”
—Marya Hornbacher, New York Times bestselling author of Madness: A Bipolar Life and Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

 “Ned Zeman is simply one of the best writers we have and in his honest memoir of depression, mania and amnesia he uses his journalist’s skills to reconstruct events in a way that is compulsively entertaining. Read one page of this book. Just one page. I bet you won’t be able to put it down.”—Bryan Burrough, New York Times bestselling author of The Big Rich and Public Enemies

“This is a breath-taking dive into a dark corner of the mind, beautifully written, courageous and almost painfully comic.”
—Ben Macintyre, author of Operation Mincemeat