An Autistic History

February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

notevenwrongTitle: Not Even Wrong

Author: Paul Collins

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 245 pages

I’ve journaled nearly twenty pages of commentary on this book.  Now, having finished it, I’m not sure what I should share and what should be kept to myself.

Collins does a spectacular job sharing memoir with known history, diving into tales from the world and mixing it with tales from his personal world.  The first few chapters are dedicated to his pursuit of Peter the Wild Boy and an existing desire to write a biography on the mysterious boy who was ‘rescued’ by King George. (Reference to the boy made in Notes and Queries, of course.)  Collins later discovers his son is autistic.

The entire book is an ode to his son and his autism.  An ode to their life, their relationship, the world of Autists.

Therefore a lot of information is shared regarding what that means.  A lot of reflection on the gene pool it takes to cook up such a neurological anomaly that is an essential part of humanity as a whole.  The trifecta being science, art, and math.

Collins writes on page 96:

Apparently we have been walking around with the genetic equivalent of a KICK ME sign:

my father: mechanical engineer

jennifer’s father: musician, math major

my brother: phd in computing

jennifer: painter

me

At this point, I remember taking my own personal inventory.  My father is a civil engineer, not only that he was a musician and painter, and suffers from what I think is undiagnosed and extremely mild tourettes (also discussed in Collins’ book).  My immediate cousins and family members on that side of the family are musicians and scientists.  Some work in labs, some in an engineering field.  Although I’ve been an English and History girl my whole life, much to my father’s chagrin, I was raised by and around extremely scientific minds.  I think I get all the feelings and other eccentricities from my mother’s side.  But in a parallel universe, had I somehow procreated with people I had dated in college rather than the love of my life whom I married – musicians, computer geeks, Synesthesiacs (also discussed in Collins’ book) – I think I was very close to wearing that KICK ME sign as well.

Looking at the world through the eyes of Collins’ research, I think many people have been close to wearing that sign.  I think everyone should read through this book and see just how close.  It’s enlightening.  It’s scary.  It’s beautiful.

There are so many amazing people through out history who have changed the face of humanity – the way we work – integral parts of society and science… and they were very likely autistic.   Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, Paul Erdos.  These people are essential to who we are as a species today.  These people have made our world more beautiful, even though they are very likely to be the same people described on page 109:  “Imagine if you tried to pretend to understand people, but didn’t really.  So you rehearse it all in your head: taking notes, analyzing every social action, trying to connect it all together.”  I don’t have to imagine.  I may not be a genius like Albert Einstein, I may not be as clever as Glenn Gould, and I’m certainly not nearly as eccentric as Andy Warhol – but I know all about rehearsing, taking notes, analyzing, and still feeling quite out of the loop.  A little bit of understanding from the rest of the world goes a long way in my book – even though I’m not so good at understanding the rest of the world, I’m trying to be better about it.

“You know, it used to be that when I saw someone acting or talking strangely, or just being odd on the bus, I’d think to myself: What’s his problem? I still have that reaction.  But now I stop, pause, and have a second thought: No, really, what is that man’s problem? There is a decades-long chain of events that created the person who are seeing.” – pg. 213

Paul Collins brings a little bit of humanity and the importance of curiosity and empathy into ALL his work.  For that I adore him, and will always adore him, forever.

On that note, I want to check out the artwork of his wife.  I love art.  I love paintings.  I am the CMO of an art company called Aoristos and I’m curious to see the style of art the spouse of my favorite author paints.  If anyone knows and can provide reliable links – please do.

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Book Coma

December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Christmas tree with bookI’ve been a slacker these last few weeks.  At least it feels that way.  I am behind on my reading – but when am I not? My house is not nearly as clean as I would like it to be – since when is this news? And I’ve been doing an awful lot of just ‘hanging out.’

Just thinking about the act of doing nothing makes me cringe sometimes.  I’m a doer.  Albeit a relaxed doer, but a doer nonetheless.

Then, I realized, it’s family season.  I’m supposed to be hanging out.  Thanksgiving just passed.  It’s almost Christmas.

Plus, sometimes the reading bug is in a coma because it’s still caught up in the last book you read.

You know that one, “the book hangover.”  You can’t move on to a new title with the same level of zest because your brain keeps lulling back to old characters.  I felt that way pretty heavily after I finished reading The Hunger Games series in a two-to-three day stint.  And now, I have half a mind to re-read the book that has induced this coma… Heirloom by S.Smith.

It is not uncommon to find me looking something like this... and my house does look something like that.

It is not uncommon to find me looking something like this… and my house does look something like that.

How appropriate that in this season of friends and family, Heirloom has such a gloriously familial title.

There’s just nothing more appropriate in the holiday season than a search for a missing father.  Questions that rise up in every little girl’s heart, whether her father is present or missing are subtly addressed in Smith’s book as Lily asks, “Do you think my father will like me?”

Of course, another character responds, you’re his daughter so he loves you.

Little girls just can’t hear that enough.

Then as Lily finally (*spoilers*) makes her way home, I just want to bask in the hominess of it all.  I’ve been lurking around in a Seed Savers hominess fog for weeks.  In my impatience I want to scream, “When do I get a copy of Keeper!?”

My only response is the last page of Heirloom, “Keeper, Coming in 2014.”

2014 cannot get here fast enough.

heirloom cover

If you haven’t purchased your copy of Seed Savers: Heirloom, please do so by clicking the link with the title.

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