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Parallel Play

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  104 reviews
An affecting memoir of life as a boy who didn’t know he had Asperger’s syndrome until he became a man.

In 1997, Tim Page won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work as the chief classical music critic of The Washington Post, work that the Pulitzer board called “lucid and illuminating.” Three years later, at the age of 45, he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome–an
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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Tim Page
I am the author of "Parallel Play" and thought that my new introduction to the paperback edition might be of interest to readers:

It is now almost two years since I scribbled down the final words of “Parallel Play” at a window table in my favorite Baltimore bar. Initial jubilation was followed by some premonition about the reception that this most personal of my books might receive – from friends, family, colleagues and strangers, who would now know much more about me than I would ever be likely
Oct 05, 2009 rated it liked it
As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD in my forties, I can appreciate the feeling of relief it must have been for Tim Page to get a diagnosis/explanation for his "differentness".
That said, his Aspergers shows in the book. It is a memoir of childhood and young adulthood with tons of info about music, which is Page's love and profession. Very little is said about people in his life: parents, wife, children. The reader knows that Tim cares for people. After all, he mourns those lost to him on
Nov 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
I really, really enjoyed the first few chapters of this fascinating look at a child with Asperger's. His obsessions with music and death, the need for the same conversations over and over, and description of school field trips where he cared more about bus routes and the scenery than the destination all drew me into his world.

The rest of the book was a major disappointment, however, as he spends his adolescence descending into drugs and the moral anarchy of the sixties and seventies. He spends
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The bare facts of Tim Page’s professional life show that not only has he been tremendously successful, he’s very decidedly followed his own path. His lifelong love of music led to employment as a radio show host, a platform that allowed him to interview many of his living heroes in the arts world. He won a Pulitzer Prize writing as the Washington Post’s classical music critic, a job title he’d coveted since the age of three or four. When he discovered Dawn Powell, then a mainly forgotten author ...more
Tim Page
I am the author of "Parallel Play" and thought that my new introduction to the paperback edition might be of interest to readers:

It is now almost two years since I scribbled down the final words of “Parallel Play” at a window table in my favorite Baltimore bar. Initial jubilation was followed by some premonition about the reception that this most personal of my books might receive – from friends, family, colleagues and strangers, who would now know much more about me than I would ever be likely
R.G. Evans
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
When I heard Tim Page interviewed on NPR in support of the memoir “Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s,” I had a moment of uncanny recognition in which I felt Page was actually describing my own life rather than his. Could I have Asperger’s myself? I wondered. The feeling only intensified as I read Page’s book. “I suffer little stage fright when it comes to public speaking or appearances on radio or television,” Page writes. “I’ve got those particular acts figured out—but ...more
Herb Reeves
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it
I have many of the traits ascribed to Asperger's, but other than the informed opinion of a friend, I have had no official diagnosis.

Although many of the symptoms are good fits, and I have no problem accepting the possibility that Asperger's could be the root cause, I've recently wondered if a certain type of upbringing would result in a similar personality type. I'm an only child, and my parents (both deceased) were emotionally uncommunicative. My early enthusiasms were met mostly with
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it
first and last couple of pages race through some extremely interesting stuff (his two marriages and divorces, three kids, 10 books published.....) and the rest of the book alternates between fascinating incidents/vignettes (esp. being a passenger in a horrible drunk-driving car wreck as a teenager, a couple of the other passengers having died)and overlong descriptions of concerts he attended, operas he loves, drugs he took when he was a hippie, etc.

Not sure why he decided against writing much
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Laura by: book group
I very much enjoyed the portions of this book where he talked about his insights into his (dis)ability ("I was probably going to be famous someday but that I was going to be alone" and "The book that helped pull me into the human race was Emily Post's Etiquette.") When there were pages of detail about silent movies or operas I'd never heard of my interest greatly waned!

I read this as a mom of a slightly quirky kid, hoping to get an insider's view of what Page wished his parents or teachers had
Carol B
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it

Parallel Play is Tim Page's memoir of life for someone who didn't know he had Asperger's syndrome until middle adulthood. Asperger's syndrome is "an autistic disorder characterized by often superior intellectual abilities but also by obsessive behavior, ineffective communication and social awkwardness." Tim Page's account of his childhood, teenage years and young adulthood are both humorous and anquishing. It also illuminates his brilliance in his areas of intellectual enlightenment. He has
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
A disappointment. I'd already read all the best parts in a Washington Post or New York Times excerpt. If you want insight on what it's like to have Asperger's Syndrome, to have a completely different way of thinking than most people, read "Look Me In The Eye" by John Elder Robison. If you want to read seemingly endless passages about lesser known classical composers, read this. In true Aspie fashion, Page waxes on and on about what interests HIM, not the reader.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: autism

This is a short and sweet little narrative about the early life of Tim Page, who was apparently a badass music critic for the Washington Post. It combines two of my interests, music and autism, into a nice, balanced work that is entertaining and informative.

As the author cautions in his introduction, it is far from a how-to manual about raising or interacting with people with autism. In fact, his condition is more like a passenger, always along for the ride but not always immediately relevant to
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really 4 1/2 stars-- a lovely memoir that accomplishes precisely what I think memoirs can and should-- introduce you to a life, paint a portrait of a particular time and experience, and at the same time offer something more--in this case, a consideration of living with Asperger's and an exploration of music that demonstrates Page's music criticism in a light but interesting way. His prose is smooth and goes down like a fine glass of red wine, and his metaphors and descriptions are often quietly ...more
Sean Kottke
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, professional
This was a terrific memoir about growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. Page is a great writer with a talent for describing sensory experiences in clear, relatable prose. This served him well in his career as a music critic, and it serves him well here in the project of helping the neurotypical reader see and feel the world through the senses of a child with Asperger's. With abiding interests in silent film and old Hollywood myself, I connected well with Page's story up through early ...more
Rebekah Choat
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Having a nearly-adult son who very probably also has undiagnosed Asperger's, I picked this up looking for some insight. Page writes just as an Aspie would be expected to write - heavy, detailed emphasis on his particular interests, minimal and for the most part somewhat clinical mentions of how his differences affected his family, with a few deeper glimpses into his relationship with his father and feelings toward a couple of friends. I guess the forays into drugs and the whole counter-culture ...more
Nov 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to George by: Politics & Prose Bookstore
This was a very well written autobiography of Music critic and author Tim Page. He gave a great insight to the life and struggles of one who has Asperger's. If you have a friend who may be dealing with this issue, this book may help you understand how his/her mind may be viewing life and the world. Mr. Page is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and he uses his writing abilities to discuss the unique perspectives he has had since childhood and explore how he mapped out a successful path through ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
I hoped this book would be more about Asperger's and what it was like to live with it. Instead it was a biography. To be fair, in the introduction, the author did say that it was about his life and not about his syndrome. I was interested in this book because I am a teacher and I've had students on the spectrum. As I read I was searching for the parts of the book where he described how he thought. Perhaps this is why at times I felt I was skimming the book more than enjoying the prose.
Amy schelkopf
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
a very well written book-a highly interesting & educational read-especially enjoyed learning about tim page's childhood, teenage, and young adult years, i read this book because of a positive magazine review and happened to see it on display in new-non fiction books at a peoria library-what i am writing is boring-tim page's book is anything but boring-
Elizabeth Evans
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
My oldest son has Aspergers' and is trying to find his way in the world. I loved reading about how Tim saw the world as a child. I also read "Look Me in the Eye" about Augusten Burroughs' brother who also has Aspergers'. Helps me understand how my son sees the world around him.
Sarah Martinez
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Beautiful, straightforward prose. (A voice I would love to be able to mimic.) The drawn-out descriptions of composers and musical pieces was tiresome, but served to good effect. You got a sense of what it must feel to be around Mr. Page.
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Having lived and Storrs and was friends with Tim, this was a trip down memory lane. Tim is by far the most gifted person I have ever known, it was interesting to read his story from his perspective.
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could buy a pile of Tim's book and pass them out to people I care about. His almost Shandean digressions on life and music are a marvel.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
An amazing bio about exploring humanity and discovering a sense of place. Much of it is also set in Storrs, CT and New York, NY.
Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
An interesting and movingly written account of a life with Asperger's.
Christopher Pickert
A much longer book is distilled into this one, which of course I mean as high praise, and while it is written with a deft and almost musical touch, that only serves to intensify how it feels when the author touches a nerve directly - either his own or one of mine.

My sister sent me this book after she read my own novel, and while I don't feel I am the same as the author in terms of temperament or placement on the autism spectrum (though I have to have been on it somewhere in the past if not
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
My husband had read Parallel Play: Life as an Outsider by Tim Page (Random House, 2009) and handed it off to me a few weeks ago. I recognized the title and author. I remembered a recent interview with him on NPR about the diagnosis of Aspergers and had thought then what a fascinating and likable guy he seemed to be. I already had some familiarity with him as a music critic, although I was unaware that he had been awarded the Pulitzer in 1997. It was surprising to note that the copyright date on ...more
Sean Ward
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this as an adult diagnosed with Asperger's interested in the experiences of others and in writing my own biography. I found it marvelously frank and detailed, with a number of beautifully written passages that resonated personally.
Angela Prins
Really enjoyed his perspective on living with Asperger's. Learned lots about music.... Amazing knowledge in this area too.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this on my Kindle.

Tim Page, at one time a classical music critic for the Washington Post, winner of the Pulitzer prize, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as an adult. As I read this memoir, many people popped into my mind – particularly the children I’ve worked with over the years – the bright, wonderfully eccentric kids who march to their own somewhat quirky drumbeat.

I liked the quote at the beginning of this book: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” –
Jun 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Overall, I did like this book. Most especially the epilogue where Page discusses how the Asperger's has affected him over his life-he was diagnosed in his mid 40's. It's also very clear that he has Asperger's Syndrome from his writing which can be at times distant and track jumping (I have Asperger's as well so I say that as an observation and not a judgement.) If you want to read something to get a glimpse of how the brain functions on AS, Page is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and describes ...more
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Tim Page is the author of Dawn Powell: A Biography and the editor of The Diaries of Dawn Powell and Selected Letters of Dawn Powell . He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1997 and is a culture critic at The Washington Post.
“friends and I used to play an invented parlor game called the Worst Records Never Made. The point was to hypothesize the most stunningly inappropriate albums we could imagine—pairings of artists and material so horrific that even the famously dunderheaded major labels would hardly consider making them. Most of our inspirations have been lost to memory, but the notion of discs like “Yodel with the Berlin Philharmonic,” “The Three Tenors Sing Gilbert and Sullivan,” and—my favorite—“The Chipmunks Present Your Favorite Spirituals” can still inspire what P. G. Wodehouse used to call “the raised eyebrow,” 0 likes
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