Monday, November 3, 2008
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison
October was a hectic month for me. And I needed a book. Something light and humorous. I saw a goofy kid scowling at me from the cover of a small paperback and I picked it up.
“Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s”.
I remembered that Augusten Burroughs had mentioned his brother having Asperger’s Disease in his book, "Running with Scissors". I think he called it Ass Burgers. So I bought the book thinking it could be kind of funny!
Turns out, John Elder Robison IS Augusten Burrough’s brother! Augusten wrote a charming Foreword and I was, for a moment, pleased with my choice.
Unfortunately, the book read, to me, more like a textbook. If I was to feel sorry for his childhood because he was “different”, I didn’t. Some of us without Asperger’s were treated just as badly and unfairly and were just as misunderstood without any clinical justifications. I think his difficulties had more to do with alcoholic, mentally ill parents than his disease. Or, that’s the way it sounded to me. If it had more to do with Asperger’s, he didn’t portray it very well. So he tried to "pet" a girl who didn't like it? I laughed at some little kid choking on a hot dog and he didn't like that, either. Asperger's? Nope, sometimes kids just don't understand social situations. His choking didn't make me laugh, the streams of milk coming out of his nose, did. I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me for the misunderstanding, I was just a dumb kid!
While Mr. Robison had some interesting careers and adventures in his life, he wasn’t really able to relay them to me with much gusto. It all could have been condensed down to a page or two of really good humor ... if he had asked his brother for a little help in writing it! (I wish I hadn’t known anything about the author’s relationship with Augusten Burroughs. It was impossible not to compare them and the latter is an amazing writer! It also came across as a bit of name-dropping.)
Perhaps I should have done a little research on the disease prior to reading it. Perhaps if I had, I would have enjoyed the book more, been more impressed with his accomplishments.
But I didn’t.