Wolfman's Reviews > Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
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Jun 13, 2011

liked it
Read in December, 2009

I really enjoyed the chapters about his days designing special-effects guitars for KISS; in fact, I'm pretty sure that my well known affinity for that band is the reason this book was recommended to me by almost everyone I know in education. But it was an interesting biography even without that stuff. The final few chapters were not as enjoyable to me because they felt a bit like pandering to the Asperger crowd. The story is intriguing in its own right, whether he is an "Aspergian" or not. The fact that the subtitle of the book is "My Life with Asperger's" indicates that one of the conditions of publication was probably that he do a certain amount of shilling for that cause; however, I felt that many of the traits he desribes as Aspergian are really just traits of people who care about the details. What he refers to as Aspergian, I might call competent. (Maybe I am just saying that because I happen to share some of those traits -- concern for details, lack of patience with bureaucracy, substance over style -- and, then again, maybe all these folks recommended the book to me because they think I have Asperger's. And maybe I do.) I know a little bit about the condition, and I have had a number of students that have been so diagnosed, and I'll admit that the writer's spare style (lots of short, declarative sentences; no flowery language; no comparisons) does ring true to that description. There is often a feeling when reading that the purpose is simply to inform, never to entertain. No small talk, few digressions. (Maybe that's why the final few chapters seemed like a chore: maybe I got tired of that.) I think, ultimately, there is a message to Aspergians that even people with this condition can live a relatively happy and normal life, but, as I said before, some of this felt too much like a kind of pandering. I think he could have let his story speak for itself, and he could have let readers arrive at that conclusion on their own. That way he would not have risked alienating readers who may not know anything about Asperger's. I'm glad I read it.

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