Posts Tagged ‘Autism’

A few months ago my book pile was at the point of toppling over. Now it needs replenishing. (Nothing like browsing and buying books to reenergise the soul). A sense of achievement reigns over and I can look back and consider what I’ve read. Most were good; a couple excellent and there were a couple I could have done without. The latter were both psychological thrillers which, I’ve decided, are categorically not my preferred genre but were benignly recommended so I felt obliged to stick them out. I appreciate the plots are well thought through but in my humble opinion this over compensates for a lack of decent writing. Clunky descriptions, far too many adjectives, over sensational endings to each short chapter create a cartoon strip narrative without the distraction or excitement of comic book pictures. Suffice it to say, both titles were on the best seller list for ages so I accept I’m in a minority. (Nothing new there, then).

Here are three I’ve really, really enjoyed. I’d award each of them 📚📚📚📚📚 in my own book rating system.

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar
The childhood memoir of BBC Wildlife presenter, Chris Packham describes in vivid detail his early encounters and the obsession he has continued to have with the natural world. Chris, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 44 also details his excruciating school days, of not fitting in and how, at the age of 14, he took solace from the confusing world of people and escaped by hand rearing a baby kestrel. This obsessive association would affect the rest of his life, with almost devastating consequences. Packham’s prose sings off the pages. It is typically intense, brilliant and raw; in turns hilariously funny and desperately sad. It is both brave and honest. Whether he wrote this as an intentional cathartic experience or not, he gives the reader an insight into the extraordinary world of the autistic brain. Even though there are parts that make for uncomfortable reading, I loved every word.
Since I read his book, a documentary about Chris, “Asperger’s and me” has aired on the BBC. He is patron of the National Autistic Society and has raised awareness of this debilitating condition and its associated daily struggles in this completely frank glimpse into his personal life. Seeing him as himself instead of the presenter we all think we know was a sobering experience. It made me love him all the more, realising just how much effort he has to put into his working life when he’d much rather be walking his dog in the woods.

 

Walking Home 
Poet Simon Armitage attempts the Pennine Way in reverse; that is, walking from Scotland to his home town of Marsden in Yorkshire. Aficionados of this route travel from south to north so that the prevailing winds are following them. Armitage undertakes to complete the walk in a fortnight, taking no money with him, pledging to earn his keep en route by giving poetry readings.

His lugubrious progress, dogged by awful weather and slowed by folks who join him for parts of the route, is single-mindedly determined. There is no doubting that the 270 miles over tough terrain is a hard slog and then to spend his evening reading poetry to an assembled throng in return for his bed and board is often the last thing he wants to do but he relates his journey in a light, darkly humorous tone, which makes for easy reading.

 

The Optician of Lampedusa
A true story of an ordinary couple from a small island in the Mediterranean who get caught up in an international tragedy and how the repercussions of this affects the rest of their lives. Told in stark prose by award winning journalist Emma Kirby, the opening chapter with its description of six friends embarking on a much relished fishing trip and what they come across will stay with the reader long after the completion of the book. Originally attracted to what they assume is the sound of excited seagulls, the full horror unfolds as the fishermen draw closer to discover hundreds of terrified people threshing about in the water after the vessel which had promised to transport them to the safety of Europe capsizes. As the friends call the coastguards they desperately try to rescue as many men, women and children as they can but realise their attempts are futile; the coast guards are slow to arrive. The people they left behind will haunt them forever. The Optician of Lampedusa is not an easy read by any means but it is an  essential one.

Are there any books that you’ve read lately that you would award 📚📚📚📚📚? I need to go on a book binge.

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As we race towards the sharp end of the summer term with the dreaded sports day and activities week safely out of the way, the long summer break looms ahead and my postings are likely to be more erratic than usual. Without the daily routine that term time requires I fear that my time will merge into a summery haze although I have every intention of concentrating on some story writing and editing. beach-scene120412[1]

However, if last summer was anything to go by I managed to fail miserably on both of those counts, so I’m not promising anything or indeed setting a deadline that I will feel obliged to fulfil. I shall keep up with reading as many blogs as I can so won’t have evaporated completely from the stratosphere and I shall hopefully find some interesting places during August that will be worth blogging about later.

Before I go though, I must just share this with you.

The autistic son of an acquaintance of mine was recently banned from his school bus for a few days apparently for causing damage to said vehicle. He sat down next to a sign which clearly stated:

TAKE HAMMER AND BREAK THE GLASS.

So he did.

Enjoy your summers!

 

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