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Descripción de editorial
A heartbreaking yet deeply hopeful memoir about life as a twin in the face of autism.
When Allen Shawn and his twin sister, Mary, were two, Mary began exhibiting signs of what would be diagnosed many years later as autism. Understanding Mary and making her life a happy one appeared to be impossible for the Shawns. At the age of eight, with almost no warning, her parents sent Mary to a residential treatment center. She never lived at home again.
Fifty years later, as he probed the sources of his anxieties in Wish I Could Be There, Shawn realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his sister's, and that their natures were far from being different.
Twin highlights the difficulties American families coping with autism faced in the 1950s. Shawn also examines the secrets and family dramas as his father, William, became editor of The New Yorker. Twin reconstructs a parallel narrative for the two siblings, who experienced such divergent fates yet shared talents and proclivities. Wrenching, honest, understated, and poetic, Twin is at heart about the mystery of being inextricably bonded to someone who can never be truly understood.
In his previous book Wish I Could Be There, Shawn explored his agoraphobia and claustrophobia. Here, Shawn, whose father is the former New Yorker editor William Shawn and his brother the playwright/actor Wallace Shawn, focuses on his twin sister, Mary, who early on is diagnosed with both mental retardation and autism, and institutionalized by the time she is eight. Shawn knows he cannot really penetrate Mary's world, but writes movingly of the lifelong effects of Mary's absence from his. Mary's "sudden, virtually noiseless departure" results in a kind of "survivor guilt," so that "for , to grow up and flourish would mean leaving Mary irrevocably behind." He speculates that his father's inability to face the challenge of caring for her may have been a significant reason for his 37-year affair with colleague Lillian Ross. In addition to his reflections on his own emotional growth and creative evolution, Shawn steps out of the memoir genre to contribute a long informational chapter on how the thinking about autism has changed since it was first identified by Dr. Leo Kanner as a separate disorder from schizophrenia in the 1940s. Whether he's remembering Mary, the deaths of his parents, or his studies with Nadia Boulanger and other great musicians, Shawn writes poetically with honesty and empathy.