Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I don't always wear a bonnet.
But when I do, I'm usually drinking.
Warning:  There is a distinct possibility my views on nature biased my opinion of this book.  Natures is lovely.  I appreciate its grand and gloriously complex ecosystems that create simple beauty.  I understand its value and its fragility in an increasingly industrialized society.  But usually I like to do all that with four walls and some glass separating me from nature.  There are bugs in nature.  And heat.  These are things that make me cranky.  It's best for everyone if I mainly stay indoors.  (If I ever tell you I've been camping, I should be checked for ticks and psychotic breaks.)  So it should come as no surprise that I thought the guy in this non-fiction account was crazy before I ever read a word inside the book jacket.  So, yeah, maybe I shouldn't be the one reviewing this book.

Into the Wild became a book after Mr. Krakauer investigated the circumstances of Christopher Johnson McCandless's death for Outside magazine.  (I assume by now it's obvious that I'm not a subscriber to said magazine, and therefore wasn't aware of this incident until I saw this an indoor book store....where there's no nature except in pictures.  As it should be.)  The book is the culmination of Mr. Krakauer's investigation and research into the odd matter.  It's not odd that someone would die in the remote wilderness of Alaska, but it is odd that before his sojourn into Seward's Folly, McCandless basically disavowed established society after an upbringing that embraced it.  The book traces McCandless's nomadic steps after his graduation from Emory University in 1990 to his death alone in the Alaskan wilderness north of Mt. McKinley in 1992.

 Krakauer interviewed those known to have come in contact with McCandless, though he went by the name Alexander Supertramp at the time.  There are many things that no one will ever be able to piece together.  What Krakauer was able to discern comes from Alex's journals and interviews.  Apparently Alex came to believe writers such as Tolstoy, Thoreau, and Jack London understood how one should live: without an attachment to materialistic things and an ability to live off the land.  Alex started off on his journey in his own vehicle, but after it was flooded around Lake Mead he abandoned it and continued by means of hitch hiking and train jumping.  As he left his car, he also burned all of his identification and cash so he left with a backpack of meager supplies and his journal.  From there he traveled through South Dakota, Nevada, even as far south as Mexico before he made his way back to South Dakota.  There he worked for a friend he had made during his first trip through the state, as a way to earn money for supplies for his ultimate destination: Alaska.

Mt. McKinley
The book is well-written, though I'll admit that I prefer a more chronological re-telling than the one presented in Into the Wild.  But it was very interesting and, actually, quite sad.  I want to know more about his family situation before his great disappearance.  It seems odd to me that his family had no idea he planned to do this.  I want to know more about his obsession with the particular writers he often quoted to others, as well as continually re-reading.  I want to know why he felt Alaska, and not say some remote part of Canada, was the ultimate test of one's ability to survive and understand The Wild.  (Though I supposes Jack London has quite a bit to do with that.)  And I want to know why, with his obvious intelligence and respect for nature and its potential brutality, he didn't walk into the wilderness better prepared.  He had little food, meager supplies, and almost no means of acquiring more food.  Which, coupled with an injury, is why he starved to death.  At the end of the book I had more questions than answers, but not necessarily in an unsatisfactory way.  There is no way for Krakauer, or anyone really, to be able to answer the questions because the answers all went with Christopher McCandless/Alex Supertramp; into the wild.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Crazy People: The Crazy For You Stories by Jennifer Crusie

We like Jennifer Crusie in these parts.   We've mentioned it here and here and here.  That probably makes us review reiterators, but we're giving you good stuff.  We can't help it if so much good stuff comes out of the voices in Crusie's head.

Don't ask me to pick
my favorite Crusie voice.

I started reading Crusie when Welcome to Temptation came out.  That was 2000, and I had a new author-crush.  I went back to the bookstore and found two previous publications, Tell Me Lies and Crazy For You.  By then, I was in full-on author-love.  The characters and dialogue were not like anything else I was reading.  I wanted more and more and more.*

* I haven't found an author yet that can write as fast as I devour their work, but at least Crusie shares quality stuff even if I can't get it at the pace I want.  Seriously, instantaneous wouldn't be fast enough. :) On the other hand, Jenny is doing some really interesting things right now, like the Writewell Academy.

Of those first three books I read, I would probably rank them from top to bottom as Welcome to Temptation, Crazy For You, and Tell Me Lies.  (Of course, that's like saying the books are completely freakin' awesome, merely freakin' awesome, and oh-my-goodness good.)  Crazy For You had a hero I wanted for myself and was set in small town that sounded like suspiciously like my own.  (If, of course, I had been cursed with being a Buckeye instead of an Illini.)

Now, Crusie is offering an inside look at how she developed her characters for Crazy For You, predominantly the woman.  This inside look comes in Crazy People: The Crazy For You Stories.  There are six short stories in this collection plus four appendices.  The stories were written as character exercises when she was working on her MFA in Creative Writing at The Ohio State.  Of the short stories, I absolutely loved The Day My Sister Shot the Mailman and Got Away With It, Of Course and Meeting Harold's Father.  Meeting Harold's Father made me melt in a totally irrational sigh.  We can call both of those completely freakin' awesome.  The other four were oh-my-goodness good.  The appendices offer even more insight in the writing and publishing processes because they include a condensed and published version of Just Wanted You To Know, her proposal to St. Martin's Press that included the first chapter of that draft of Crazy For You  and the final, rewritten and published version of the first chapter of Crazy For You.
Small towns have been known to produce this face.

If you like good stories, Crazy People is a great read.  It's funny, and a collection of short stories is great for those times when you need something to pick up and put down.  If you like to know how things are made, or if you have a personal interest in the publishing world, I would recommend Crazy People for you, too. Pin It

The Miraculous Jouney of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

This is my living room floor on a daily basis.
I was never a big fan of stuffed animals when I was little.  Sure, I had a few go-to standby's....there was Tami, the stuffed dog my Dad got me for my 5th birthday.  Pete, my stuffed dragon from the movie by the same name and when I got older I think I spent a few good months with my Cabbage Patch doll, Gretchen.  I was more of a reader and board game girl, I guess.  Fast forward 25 years or so and I am now the mother of two children who each have more stuffed animals than I have coffee mugs.  That's a lot of stuffed animals, people.

So I was a little surprised that I liked The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane so much.  A friend suggested I read it saying, "it's quick, it is well written and you might tear up a bit at the end." Sold. Plus, I already knew I liked Kate DiCamillo.  Her Mercy Watson series is a hit at our house and so is her most famous book The Tale of Despereaux.   In short, my friend was right.  Here's the longer version.

Even though I was not one to play with stuffed animals much when I was young, it was easy to like this book right from the start.  Edward Tulane is a china rabbit living a rather posh lifestyle with the Tulane family in their home on Egypt Street.  Abilene, the young girl who cares for him, likes to dress him up, sit him at the dinner table and even tuck him into his own bed at night.  All is well until Abilene and family set sail one day on the Queen Mary and Edward is accidentally thrown overboard by a group of rowdy boys.  This is where the "miraculous journey" part comes in.  Edward's journey includes being caught in a fisherman's net, spending time in a hobo camp and living out some heart-wrenching days with a dying young girl. Edward never forgets Abilene though and yearns to be with her again.  It is a sweet story with a simple message and one I think everyone can relate to. 

If nothing else, this story has made me a bit more tolerant of my messing living room floor.  So what if my children hoard their stuffed animals (currently they are all in suitcases headed for New York to see the Statue of Liberty) like a crazy lady hoards cats?  I know that the days of the stuffed animal game, "Bed State Area" are limited.  And who knows?   Maybe their time in our house is the beginning of their very own "miraculous journey."

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lamb by Christopher Moore

Those without irreverence should not enter

Remember when Amy said they're moving?  Yeah, so am I.  My darling husband has already left and in approximately 14 days there will be people here to pack up our house.  And do you know what I've been doing? Crying.  Crying because my daughter is done with pre-school.  And while I'm all for feeling our emotions when they happen and understanding that the small things in life are usually the big things in life, etc ad nauseum, I don't have time for that.  I should be preparing for (hopefully) the World's Greatest Garage Sale, taking things off the wall, packing the personal items we will need while our household goods are in transit, and all sorts of other random things one must do to leave a place properly.  Which also means I don't have time to write a proper review of this good book.  So just know: this is a good book; you should read it if you're not offended by alternate interpretations of Christ's life; you should forgive short-timed bloggers because that's what Jesus would do.  Hmmm....that last part would make a good t-shirt/bracelet/bumper sticker.

Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, is funny.  It's also touching, sad, and endearing.  You may notice that this is the second novel by Mr. Moore that I have read and reviewed in about a month.  That's because he's got a wicked sense of humor and an easy writing style.  What he doesn't have is the ability to take things too seriously.  I, personally, like that.  However, I know there are some people who will not appreciate that when put together with the subject at hand; Christ's formative years.  Levi, who is called Biff, is Jesus Christ's, Joshua, best friend.  He has been resurrected to write his gospel for the world, and so we come to know all manners of things the more popular gospel writers omitted.  Like the fact that Mary was a bit of a knockout, at least that's how Biff saw her.  Or that Jesus started to realize he might be The One when he and his brother played a game involving resurrecting lizards.  Maybe you didn't know that Jesus was often frustrated with the lack of communication on his Father's part.  These are all things Biff was privy to as he was with Joshua all the time.

When Joshua felt he needed to explore what being the Son of God really meant and how he was to go about doing whatever it was that it meant, Biff followed him to the mountains of Afghanistan and the shores of India (where Joshua became quite the yogi and befriended the last yeti).  Which is good, because Joshua is the world's nicest guy, can't tell a lie, and is therefore a walking target for people of lesser morals.  Biff has the street smarts while Joshua has the ability to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, cast out demons, and resurrect the dead.  What could go wrong?  There is no surprise ending.  Ultimately, Joshua is crucified.  Biff loses it and goes after Judas.  Well........and then some other stuff happens but I don't want to give that away because I felt it was one of the better parts of the story.  I really, really liked this book.  It made me appreciate the challenges Joshua had to face, whether accurately depicted here or not - there had to be more than a few issues in asserting oneself as The Savior, here on Earth.  I was not offended by the story or the language used.  I might not recommend it to my mother-in-law and I'm not sure it would be my mother's favorite either.  BUT, if you want a different take on a life that has been well-discussed, then this is your book. Pin It

Friday, May 18, 2012

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen

Subtitle: Post in which I do just as Jenny Crusie told me

No, really.  Jenny Crusie, one of my ALL time favorite authors, recommended Carl Hiassen's Skinny Dip over at Reinventing Fabulous.  I'm a faithful follower of that blog, so while she didn't recommend the book to me PERSONALLY, she did recommend it.

So, no, while Jenny Crusie and I aren't close
"like this", ==>
we have been known to post comments near each other. (Hush.  Be kind.  Leave me my delusions.)

Truly, though, I consider Crusie to be a master storyteller, and I trust her judgment when it comes to recommendations about storytelling--movies, television shows, and, naturally, books.  With Skinny Dip, though, it wasn't really a matter of trust.  I've enjoyed a few of Hiassen's books before, like Nature Girl and Hoot . (My review of Hoot is available here on the Between Books blog.)

Skinny Dip is the story of Joey, a not-so-happily married woman resident of Florida who thinks she's on a cruise in order to celebrate her anniversary.  Alas, her husband, perhaps the world's least qualified marine biologist, heaves her overboard.  But Mr.Clearly-Not-Husband-of-the-Year-Material's attempt to make himself a widower fails because of his own poor understanding of the Gulf Stream, a floating bale of weed and the interference of a retired cop.  Once Joey recuperates, she begins to plot and scheme. Her first order of business is to figure out WHY her husband wanted to kill her.  Then, of course, she wants revenge.  With the help of her rescuer, her sheep farming brother, and her book club best friend, Joey makes the jerk regret he'd ever met her or falsified water contaminant tests.

In typical Hiassen form, this book is funny and silly and sad.  As a satirist, Hiassen skewers Big Business, Government and Individual Greed in the name of The Evironment.  (Annoying, unnecessary capital letters are my own.  Skinny Dip is not Pilgrim's Progress, but the ridicule of this satire is intended more for the institutions than for any single entity.  Thus, the big letters.)  The thought of the damage we've done to the Everglades makes me sad, but this book is a hilarious cautionary tale.  I wouldn't call it a beach read, because lesson isn't light and fluffy, but I would call it a thoughtful diversion.

This one is well worth your time--even Jenny Crusie says so.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey

How did I not read this sooner?
I'm moving in less than 45 days.  Everywhere I look I see things that need to be cleaned, purged, fixed or put in a pile.  (I've chosen to completely avert my eyes as I walk by my children's rooms, by the way).  Last week as I was walking by the bookshelf I noticed two things.  1.  I really need to change out the Halloween liner in the basket on top of the bookshelf.  2.  I never read that book with the bright yellow cover my mom got me a few years ago.  I quickly tucked the liner down into the basket (you didn't really think I was going to remove it and put it back in the Halloween box in my storage outside, did you?) and grabbed the book.  And that got me where I am today.  No closer to being prepared for the movers but TOTALLY prepared to write this review.  Good enough.

Even if you are not from Chicago or have never visited (you need to!) you will like this book. If you happen to like crime dramas and have ever watched Cold Case Files on A&E narrated by Bill Kurtis, you will LOVE this book.  Michael Harvey (the author) actually created the series and became it's executive producer before writing this book.  As you can guess, it lends him some serious credibility as an author. 

The Cold Case Files series on television was non-fiction, but The Chicago Way is all fiction.  And it's all fiction in a gritty, corrupt, no-nonsense way that only crime fiction from Chicago can be.  Michael Kelly is an ex-cop turned private investigator who is trying to track down the killer of his ex-partner who just was found dead at Navy Pier.  He finds out the most recent case his ex-partner was working on was a rape and battery from over eight years ago.  Everyone associated with the case is now dead and Kelly fears a pattern may be emerging.  He enlists the help of a reporter from a well known Chicago tv station, some ex-buddies on the force, his best friend from childhood and a few others to try and solve the mystery.  Unfortunately, he uncovers more crime, more death and just for good measure, some more corruption.  The book is a non-stop test of Kelly's wits, stamina and emotions.  I really, really liked it.

You should go here.
When I read the jacket, I was afraid the details of the rape and all of the nastiness that goes with it would take center stage in the book.  Rest assured that it is not.  I can't even watch an entire episode of Law & Order SVU without getting emotional, so I was happy to find that the book was more about Kelly's actual hunt to find the killer.

Also unexpected but pleasantly surprising is Kelly's relationship with his childhood best friend, a female.  There is not enough of that in books these days and I think it is a nice touch.  Kelly also has a relationship (not the friendship kind) with the tv reporter.  I thought it was a bit rough around the edges but that all gets explained in the end and is Chicago, you know. 

Throw in some references to Wrigley Field and riding the EL and reading The Chicago Way was like home to me.  But that's not the only reason I liked it.  It's real, it tells a solid story and it keeps moving.  Kinda like me in 45 days. Pin It

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

 I'm not a big science fiction or fantasy reader.  I like supernatural stuff just fine; ghosts, vampires, werewolves, what-have-you, but I've never been very good at imagining whole other galaxies and physical worlds.  That's why I was so surprised when I loved everything about The Hitch-Hiker's Guide series.  Admittedly, I had to re-read the first one to feel truly comfortable with who/what the characters were and what the real issues happened to be, but from there on I was hooked.  So with that in mind, I decided to venture outside my usual fiction/literature picks and grabbed a copy of The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett.  I already plan on re-reading it to get myself more comfortable with the set-up, but I'm glad I took the risk on this one.

This is actually the first of a large, seemingly rambling, series and it's over 25 years old.  It could buy us all a drink at the bar.  But it's not dated, probably thanks to the alternate setting: Discworld.  Discworld is, well, a disc that happens to be resting on the backs of four giant elephants who are standing on the back of an even giant-er turtle.  On this disc there are lands, seas, desserts (and deserts), heroes, gods, wizards, dragons (sort of), mercenaries, trolls, tree-dwellers, smart but mean luggage, and one very frustrated and busy Death.  And that's just what I can name off the top of my head.  The Color of Magic follows Rincewind the Wizard and Twoflower the Tourist through their rambling voyage around and off Discworld.  Rincewind is mostly a wizard in name only due to an unfortunate event at school, and has since been more of a grifter than anything.  Twoflower comes to visit the great and seedy twin cities of Ankh-Morpork.  He is tired of his safe and predictable life as an insurance man.  So he travels to Ankh-Morpork to witness brawls, see heroes, meet wizards, and really live, ya know? 

Twoflower has a bit too much trust in others and naively ventures forth with little knowledge of the local language or currency.  His rich beyond measure in his new environment and he is surrounded by an entire city's worth of underbelly who are all too willing to help rid him of his wealth.  Fortunately for Twoflower there are other events set into motion by ever-watchful gods, and Rincewind becomes his reluctant translator and tour guide.  Throughout the book they manage to burn an entire city, save a hero, ride dragons, and fall off the edge of the disc.  All the while, Twoflower's luggage follows doggedly behind swiftly dispatching anyone to which it takes a disliking, and Rincewind is able to cheat Death on more than one occasion.  Nothing about this book takes itself too seriously:  one of the several reasons I enjoyed it so.  The pace of the story is swift though I wouldn't call it a logical procession.  There's a lot to keep track of which had me going back to the beginning a couple of times. {This is why I have to re-read science fiction.  My short-term memory has a very low capacity.  I blame my children.}  However, I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.  Especially now that I know the color magic is octarine; a sort of fluorescent greenish yellow purple.  So if you're wanting something outside of your spherical-world norm, I'd recommend something flatter like Discworld.   

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake

I don't know about you, but I need a break.

I have the world's most awesome job 48 weeks out of the year. Those other four weeks (midterms and finals) make for a bit of a mess of my office, my eating habits and my sleep cycle.  The end IS in sight, y'all.  We're almost there.

Just. Not. Quite.

Despite only having 64 total students, I swear I graded ONE MILLION papers today.

Yes, that's my office floor.
No, there's no more room
on the desktop.
It's nobody's fault but my own.  I have yet to figure out how to assign grades without actually assigning, um, assignments.

At a time like this, when I'm trying to remember if I left my brain on Spring Break or if it was an earlier time, I need a nice, easy distraction.  Nothing that makes my heart or my head hurt.  I need an HEA.*

*That's Happily Ever After for those of you who don't normally read romance.

And I have a fantastic and fun HEA for you today in Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake.  As a matter of fact, when I hit "publish" on this bad boy, I'm going to go home, collapse and re-read this one myself.  Not only is it fantastic and fun, it's also a bargain.  (And not just for me because I'm re-reading it. If you buy it now, it's only $2.99 at AND

Deirdre Connelly is a witch in real life (well, in the book, but you probably understood that.)  She's also an author who caught the eye of an eccentric corporate tycoon when she did an appearance on a popular morning show.  He wants her help, her magical help, with an ancient artifact that he's become quite obsessed with.  In order to convince Deirdre to help him, he sets up a meeting between the witch and her television crush, Robert Daniel Addison.  What starts out as a dinner date (with the actor) and a midnight meeting (with the tycoon) turns into a drawn-out, life-threatening adventure for Deirdre when the artifact responds to Deirdre's witchy ways instead of the tycoon's fervent wishes.

Deirdre is forced to temporarily abandon her home and her cats in order to pacify the tycoon and (hopefully) regain control of her own life.  On the bright side, her TV crush turns out to be a gentleman and hero, but on the downside, well, that temporary displacement is really just a thinly veiled imprisonment for both Deirdre and the TV hottie.  It takes quick thinking, teamwork, courage and determination to escape Mr. Obsession and do what's right with the artifact.  Despite fully expecting that HEA, I was left wondering how Deirdre and Robert Daniel were going to make it all happen.

(And I'm not spoiling the ending.  Read it yourself!)

I don't know about you, but I still need a break, and Witch Ever Way You Can is just the thing we all need. Pin It

Sunday, May 6, 2012

From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns

This time of year (May in particular) is quickly becoming one of the most dreaded for me.  As both of my children are now school-aged I can literally hear the sound of money flying out the window (end of year teacher gifts, field trips and numerous birthday parties being the main culprits).  Add to that the fact that May officially starts the PCS season for us military folks (either we are preparing to move or at least half of our friends and neighbors are which translates to emotional goodbyes almost every weekend) and I am a tad bit grumpy.  Oh, and I haven't even begun to tackle the twice yearly "wardrobe transition" (you know, where you have to go through all of your clothes and the kids clothes to find out what still fits, what doesn't and what looks best with ghostly white legs).  Yeah, I don't like May.

Earlier this week, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I did what any good wife, mother and book blogger would do and avoided all of the above and started reading.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I found From the Ashes.  I had completely forgotten about this free download from Barnes and Noble!  It was the perfect escape and provided me with three and half days of solid procrastination.  That right there should be endorsement enough, right?

If not, here's more: graduate student brothers, Michael and Jonathan Rickner have been close their entire lives.  However now that Michael has a new girlfriend, Jonathan can't help but be a little jealous.  Having spent most of their childhood on archaeological adventures with their famous father Sir William Rickner, Jonathan is not adjusting to the fact that he must now share his brother with another person.  Unfortunately, Michael shows up dead in his Washington, DC apartment and the police want to rule it a suicide.  Jonathan knows better and starts to dig into his brother's latest dissertation research.  What he finds is disturbing.  And dangerous.  He and Mara (the girlfriend) agree to work together to pick up where Michael left off and try to solve a series of clues that are hidden throughout New York City.  Their quest takes them through the historical ugliness of the rise of Nazi Germany, the Hoover administration, the Great Depression and even the Rockefellers.  Their enemies are determined to stop them so the closer they get to uncovering the long-hidden truth, the more danger they put themselves in. 

There were lots of things about this book that made it the perfect escape.  I think the best part for me was the dedication and devotion Jonathan had for his deceased brother.  Nothing was more important to him than making sure his brother's work was finished and that the truth was exposed.  Familial loyalty, especially one highlighting brothers, is not often found in thrillers like this.  It was a nice touch.  I was also happy to see that Burns didn't take the easy way out and automatically make Jonathan and Mara a couple.  It was important to me that they continued on their quest and did not let the tragedy lead them straight into each others arms. 

Also central to the book were the historical references.  It was evident that Burns did a ton of research and it paid off.  As he and Mara were navigating the streets of New York and at one point climbing around the statue of Atlas in Rockefeller Center, I could almost hear the sounds of the city coming off the pages of the book.  Weaving in some historical references like Rockefeller, Hitler and their ties to the essence of our country in the 30's and 40's only added to the credibility of the author and the story.

I really hope Burns continues the story of Jonathan and Mara.  They made a good team and I would like to see them working together again in another book.  But really, I just need him to write another book and release it by next May.   I  don't like May.


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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger'sThis post was supposed to be up on Monday, the last day of April.  April being Autism Awareness Month, I thought it was appropriate.  However technical difficulties ensued and so it's going up too late for the month designated for awareness, but I personally feel it's never too late to be made aware (or more aware as the case may be for some) of what life is like for people living with autism and/or Asperger's.  Look Me in the Eye is John Robison's first-hand account of growing up and living as an adult with Asperger's.  Mr. Robison has only realized as an adult that what he has experienced his whole life - difficulty connecting with others, the ability to concentrate on one thing to the point of obsession, and problems identifying and following unspoken social norms and cues - has a name: Asperger's Syndrome.

{Side note: When the APA starts using the DSM-V as part of diagnosing mental disorders, Asperger's and PDD-NOS will cease to be diagnosed as such.  Instead they will fall under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  For one thing, something doesn't change its properties just because we give it a different name.  A rose by any other name smells just as sweet and all that.  But at the same time, if the change in nomenclature means a difference in services prescribed then I'm worried.  Mr. Robison did not need the same services my daughter needs.  He has struggled with social skills, as does my daughter though she also struggles with language, communication, and basic self-care.  Under the new DSM, they would have the same diagnosis and possibly the same resources.  That would not be appropriate in my opinion. Anyway........}

Mr. Robison had a troubled childhood and not just due to his Asperger's.  Anyone who has read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs has had a glimpse at Mr. Robison's childhood.  He and Mr. Burroughs are brothers.  Mostly their childhood was plagued by alcoholism, abuse, and mental health issues.  John was the older of the boys and "liberated" himself as a young teen by moving out.  Eventually he dropped out of high school.  He used his abilities to fix sound equipment and truly visualize musical wavelengths as a means of employment.  He worked at for some clubs and different local bands keeping their sound equipment functional.  Eventually he made a name for himself in the rock music community, and was hired by a legendary band at the height of their popularity.  Anyone with a love for the band KISS, should read this memoir for the interesting perspective Mr. Robison's experiences with the band provides.  He toured with them as an engineer of sorts, doing everything from repairing amps to designing and producing the more theatrical musical equipment the band used on stage; smoking guitars, guitars with searchlights, and guitars that exploded for example.

All through this, Mr. Robison still found it difficult to connect with other people.  He did marry (twice), but his first marriage suffered due to several things not the least of which his lack of understanding his own "disorder."  The book is well-written and organized in essays, like many memoirs, so the chronology is not strictly straight.  However, that won't be a problem.  I was touched by how Mr. Robison described finding out about Asperger's and the impact that had on his life.  Knowing that his various challenges were part of something that he couldn't will away on his own, allowed him to shake the feeling that he was "broken."  I was also touched by how it was possible that things could have been easier for him if he had had a diagnosis and resources at an early age.  Of course, then there's the lack of stability in his home life to also address, but still.  He says himself that he grew up at a time when Asperger's was relatively unknown.  All the more reason we need more awareness in my opinion.  
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