JOHN ELDER ROBISON is the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different and Raising Cubby. He lectures widely on autism and neurological differences, and is a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. John also serves on committees and review boards for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. A machinery enthusiast and avid photographer, John lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his family, animals, and machines.
First-time writer Robison diagnosed himself with Asperger's syndrome after receiving Tony Attwood's groundbreaking work on the subject from a therapist friend ten years ago. In his well-written and fascinating memoir, the fifty-something brother of Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors) addresses the difficultly of growing up in a household with an abusive and alcoholic father, the social problems he encountered at school, and his great affinity for mechanics. It made no difference that he lacked a high school diploma-Robison's natural skills landed him work as an automobile restorer, Milton Bradley engineer, and stagehand responsible for the pyrotechnic guitars used by rock band KISS in the late 1970s. Despite these successes, the author suffered social difficulties while developing his ability to connect with and understand machines, a thread that is explored in great detail. If there is a drawback here, it is that readers do not get a strong sense of how his self-diagnosis impacted his life. But even among the growing number of books written by those diagnosed later in life, this entry is easily recommended for public and academic libraries with autism collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/07.]-Corey Seeman, Kresge Business Administration Lib., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Although this memoir deals with some dark topics-including Asperger's syndrome, family alcoholism and mental illness-debut author Robison maintains a keen humor and sense of dramatic irony throughout. The gravelly voiced Robison proves to be a capable storyteller, whether describing the pranks he used to play on his much younger brother (Augusten Burroughs, who reads his foreword) or the relief of finally being diagnosed with Asperger's in middle age after a lifetime of social isolation and relatively odd behaviors. Robison is a vocal and emphatic advocate for Asperger's, which he insists is not a disease but a different-and sometimes better-neurology. Asperger's gave Robison a single-minded ability to focus on his love of electronics, giving him a place in the world as the wizard behind Kiss's smoking and flaming guitars or, later in life, a gift for diagnosing and fixing high-end imported cars. This memoir is highly entertaining and the abridgment is smoothly edited. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Reviews, July 9). (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"An entertaining, provocative and highly-readable story by a great storyteller...you will rethink your own definition of normal, and it may spark a new appreciation of the untapped potential behind every quirky, awkward person who doesn't quite fit in."
-New York Times blog
"Deeply felt and often darkly funny, Look Me in the Eye is a delight."
-People magazine (Critics Choice, 4 Stars)
"It's a fantastic life story (highlights include building guitars for KISS) told with grace, humor, and a bracing lack of sentimentality."
"A highly entertaining, crazy ride...heartbreaking, inspiring and funny."
"Lean, powerful in its descriptive accuracy and engaging in its understated humor...Emotionally gripping."
"Robison's lack of finesse with language is not only forgivable, but an asset to his story . . . His rigid sentences are arguably more telling of his condition than if he had created the most graceful prose this side of Proust."
"Look Me in the Eye is a fantastic read that takes readers into the mind of an Aspergian both through its plot and through the calm, logical style in which Robison writes. . . Even if you have no personal connections with Asperger' s, you'll find that Robison-like his brother, Burroughs-has a life worth reading about."
"Not only does Robison share with his famous brother, Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors), a talent for writing; he also has that same deadpan, biting humor that's so irresistible."
"Dramatic and revealing...There's an endearing quality to Robison and his story that transcends the "Scissors" connection ... Look Me in the Eye is often drolly funny and seldom angry or self-pitying. Even when describing his fear that he'd grow up to be a sociopathic killer, Robison brings a light touch to what could be construed as dark subject matter...Robison is also a natural storyteller and engaging conversationalist."
-The Boston Globe
"This is no misery memoir...[Robison] is a gifted storyteller with a deadpan sense of humour and the book is a rollicking read."
"Look Me in the Eye should be required reading for teachers and human services professionals, concerned parents and anyone who likes a well-crafted story of a life zestfully lived to the beat of wildly different drums."
"Robison's memoir is must reading for its unblinking (as only an Aspergian can) glimpse into the life of a person who had to wait decades for the medical community to catch up with him."
"Well-written and fascinating." -Library Journal
"Thoughtful and thoroughly memorable...Moving...In the end, Robison succeeds in his goal of "helping those who are struggling to grow up or live with Asperger's" to see how it "is not a disease" but "a way of being" that needs no cure except understanding and encouragement from others."
"Affecting, on occasion surprisingly comic memoir about growing up with Asperger's syndrome....The view from inside this little-understood disorder offers both cold comfort and real hope, which makes it an exceptionally useful contribution to the literature."
"Of course this book is brilliant; my big brother wrote it. But even if it hadn't been created by my big, lumbering, swearing, unshaven 'early man' sibling, this is as sweet and funny and sad and true and heartfelt a memoir as one could find, utterly unspoiled, uninfluenced, and original."
-from the foreword by Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors
"Look Me In The Eye is a wonderful surprise on so many levels: it is compassionate, funny, and deeply insightful. By the end, I realized my vision of the world had undergone a slight but permanent alteration; I had taken for granted that our behavioral conventions were meaningful, when in fact they are arbitrary. That he is able to illuminate something so simple (but hidden, and unalterable) proves that John Elder Robison is at least as good a writer as he is an engineer, if not better."
-Haven Kimmel (who was in attendance at the 1978 KISS tour*), author of A Girl Named Zippy
"I hugely enjoyed reading Look Me in the Eye. This book is a wild rollercoaster ride through John Robison's life--from troubled teenage prankster to successful employment in electronics, music, and classic cars. A kindly professor introduced him to electrical engineering, which led to jobs where he found techie soulmates that were like him. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of an engineer which should be on the reading list of anyone who is interested in the human mind."
-Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation
"John Robison's book is an immensely affecting account of a life lived according to his gifts rather than his limitations. His story provides ample evidence for my belief that individuals on the autistic spectrum are just as capable of rich and productive lives as anyone else."
-Daniel Tammet, author of Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant