I'm linking today to Modern Mrs. Darcy's "Quick Lit" post where we share brief reviews of what we've been reading in the past month:
NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman is an indepth discussion of the history of autism. The book covers early autism and Asperger syndrome research, controversies over clinical approaches and diagnostic criteria, the autism/vaccination question, famous autistics like Temple Grandin, the making of the movie Rain Man, and individual case studies of autistic people and their families. Silberman argues that autism is not a new phenomenon (as the increasing number of diagnoses might suggest); rather, it's a natural difference that has always been present in the human family but has most often been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or suppressed. Instead of viewing autism as a terrible scourge and spending excessive time and money seeking causes and cures, we should recognize and welcome the gifts (even genius) that autistic people bring to society and provide support and services, where necessary, to help them flourish in a world that often hasn't suited their way of thinking and functioning. A fascinating, important book.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Strout is one of my favourite authors; she won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge, and I've read all of her books. Her latest novel is just brilliant. When narrator Lucy is hospitalized for several weeks after an operation, her mother, whom she has not seen in years, unexpectedly appears at her bedside. They chat about old neighbours and people in the news; but in spite of Lucy's questions, her mother can't open up to her about the poverty, isolation, abuse, and other secrets that shaped their family's history. Lucy ponders these aspects of her past -- including the role they've played in making her the wife, mother, and successful writer she now is -- and achieves a sad but determined acceptance. This book is unsettling, but I didn't find it depressing. And it's so well written. I spent a lot of time, after I'd finished it, looking back to examine how Strout structured it and how she was able to convey so much in a relatively short (185 pp) novel. Highly recommended.
What I'm currently in the middle of:
- A Spool of Blue Thread (Anne Tyler's latest, about an ordinary yet fractured family -- it's holding my interest despite its meandering style.)
- The Road to Character by David Brooks (I'm really enjoying it but it's past due at the library; I suppose I should demonstrate good character by returning it unfinished and letting the next person in line have it.)