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Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Look Me in the Eye

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's -

According to the foreword written by John Elder Robison's brother Augusten Burroughs, when their father died, Burroughs was surprised at the depth of emotion he saw from his older brother, because he'd never seen that from him before.  Burroughs encouraged him to write about their father's death, which led to an essay that Burroughs posted on his website.  The essay became one of the most popular features on the website, and readers frequently asked "How is your brother doing?" and "Will he write anything else?"  Look Me in the Eye was the outcome when Burroughs encouraged him to do just that.


Look Me in the Eye recounts Robison's growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's/autism.  He didn't understand why people were always urging him to look into their eyes--why they thought not doing so meant he was shifty or trying to hide something.  He had trouble understanding social situations.  His alcoholic, abusive father and mentally ill mother were not improving matters. Although he was highly intelligent, he ended up dropping out of school as soon as he was able to, taking the GED.


Parts of the book were a great companion to Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs's first memoir.  Robison uses the same pseudonyms as Burroughs did when he discusses people who appear in both books.  He reveals just how his parents originally became involved with the infamous "Dr. Finch," who provided couples and family counseling beginning when John Elder was 13 and his little brother was six.  Early on, it seems the doctor did provide some help, including convincing his father to stop hitting John Elder.  Then later on, he went off the rails.


John Elder Robison recounts a very interesting life, that includes having customized guitars for Kiss, designing video games, and repairing luxury cars.  At the time this book was written, he had been married twice and had a son from his first marriage.  Being diagnosed with Asperger's at age 40 came as a great relief, because it helped him understand himself.


I've seen other reviews for this book complaining about certain stories in the memoir being boring.  I hate to agree, but there were times when I felt a good editor ought to have encourage some cuts.  I was reminded of a comment Burroughs made about his big brother in RWS, noting that he could go into long, detailed explanations about technical topics without understanding that his audience doesn't find it fascinating.  Some of the stories were like that, so this is why I'm at three stars instead of four (though keep in mind that I use a Goodreads "I liked it" for three stars).  Fortunately most of the stories weren't like that.