This is the story of the relationship between the author and her schizophrenic father. As well as being an intensely personal journey, the book is also a comment on how every family with a sufferer of schizophrenia is affected, and how the public reacts in the face of such a disease. A photographic account of their lives together, it is accompanied by poetry written by the father, who before the disease took hold was hailed as one of Canada's most promising poets.
Phil & Me is a personal document of a daughter's use of photography to try to control her relationship with her father and the disease that has crippled him, as well as an attempt to focus public understanding upon the essential humanity, the worth and contribution, of all victims of schizophrenia. In the book Amanda explores the world of her father, Philip Tetrault - a poet who has lived with schizophrenia since he attended McGill University at the age of 21. Philip was a poet suffused with promise and was hailed by Leonard Cohen as Canada's best kept secret in 1989...before he slipped into yet another schizophrenic nightmare.
The book juxtaposes Philip's poetry with black and white images of him taken during the sporadic meetings with Amanda. The photographs encompass a period of six years and the poetry eight years. Photo-booth pictures that span the past twenty-seven years form the thread that binds the surreal visual and poetic narrative. Phil & Me evolved into a collaboration between father and daughter after Amanda asked Philip to try to write again. Since then he has given her scraps of paper and napkins full of poetry at every meeting.
Philip's poetry immerses us into the reality of his days - moving through the cafes and parks of Montreal, his habitual Mickey of vodka in hand, where many of his acquaintances are street kids, squirrels, crows and seagulls. His are the musings of a man who has survived a crippling disease - a disease rarely discussed and more often disowned.
Phil & Me tells the stories of many, through the experience of one, and gives passionate voice to those who rarely speak out and are even more rarely heard.