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Archive for the ‘Setting: Massachusetts’ Category

21. “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science,” Atul Gawande

April 3, 2010 Leave a comment

This book was extremely well-written. I had read an essay by Gawande in one of the Best Science Writing books and he’s really fantastic at explaining medical things in a way that is accessible without being patronizing. Gawande does a great job, too, of mixing cultural reflections and historical research with case studies from his own praxis. The result is an enjoyable, quick read. I plan to read Gawande’s other books. Also, I saw him on The Daily Show (or was it The Colbert Report?) the other day and he held his own, which I always respect.

Page count: 269
Page total: 5,063

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3. “Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s,” John Elder Robison

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment

My friend’s boyfriend bought me this book and an attempt to win me over. Out of gratitude, I asked my friend to make eye contact with him for me.

True story.

So, this book is a memoir by Augusten Burrough’s brother about what it is like to have Asperger’s syndrome. It chronicles his abusive family, pulling “pranks”, moving out at sixteen, designing Ace Freehly’s fire-spouting guitars, creating some of the first electronic toys for Milton Bradley, falling in love, having a son, getting divorced, getting re-married, and starting his own career.

I liked this book because for the past several years, I’ve suspected that I have Asperger’s and many of the thought patterns in this book were extremely familiar. It is also nice to see someone with AS who is successful, both in business and relationships. I recently embarked upon by first romantic relationship and sometimes I’m pretty sure this woman is a saint because I don’t really have a typical understanding of social situations and she always seems to accept my quirks in stride. It’s nice to see an Aspie with two fairly successful long term relationships.

Page count: 320
Page total: 528

58. “Shutter Island,” Dennis Lehane

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

This was a pretty quick read. I liked it a lop better than the previous book I read by Lehane, “Mystic River.”

The story is set in the mid 1950s and is about two US Marshals, Teddy and Chuck, who are dispatched to an island that is home for the “criminally insane,” a bullshit phrase that implies that being crazy is criminal. Most patients are schizophrenic or have other serious mental illnesses and when one escapes, the Marshals are called to help to locate the patient. Along the way the discover some fucked up Nuremberg shit and have to try to figure out a way to get off the heavily-patrolled island. In the middle of a hurricane. It’s being made into a movie and looks pretty good. I secretly love Leonardo DiCaprio.

Lehane was, by the way, my undergrad commencement speaker. He was very good– both funny and poinant.

Page count: 400
Page total: 23,429

37. “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England,” Brock Clarke

May 25, 2009 Leave a comment

The title is excellent, but the book didn’t do much for me. No one is that big a bumbler. It was both depressing and unrealistic (but sometimes too realistic). I think mainly that it was the reading metaphor that didn’t do much for me. How self-referential can one book get?

In all the bumbling and the “but we’ll get back to that”s, Clarke’s writing did remind me a bit of Vonnegut, though.

First line:

I, Sam Pulsifer, am the man who accidentally burned down the Emily Dickenson House in Amherst, Massachusetts, and who in the process killed two people, for which I spent ten years in prision and, as letters from scholars of American literature tell me, for which I will continue to pay a high price long into the not-so-sweet hereafter. (p.1)

There is something underwhelming about scholarly hatemail– the sad literary allusions, the refusal to use contractions. (p. 8)

Page count: 303
Page total: 17,514