NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “As sweet and funny and sad and true and heartfelt a memoir as one could find.” —from the foreword by Augusten Burroughs
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We love dysfunctional-family memoirist Augusten Burroughs of Running with Scissors fame, and now we love his older brother too. In Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison tells his story of growing up with Asperger’s syndrome—a diagnosis he didn’t receive until he was 40. Despite a chaotic home life, Robison used his neurodiversity to become a hypertalented engineer, the head of pyrotechnics for glam-rockers KISS, and a legendary prankster. This candid, emotional, and humorous memoir reminds us that erring on the side of empathy and understanding is always best.
Robison's thoughtful and thoroughly memorable account of living with Asperger's syndrome is assured of media attention (and sales) due in part to his brother Augusten Burroughs's brief but fascinating description of Robison in Running with Scissors. But Robison's story is much more fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood, his abusive alcoholic father and his mentally disturbed mother. Robison describes how from nursery school on he could not communicate effectively with others, something his brain "is not wired to do," since kids with Asperger's don't recognize "common social cues" and "body language or facial expressions." Failing in junior high, Robison was encouraged by some audiovisual teachers to fix their broken equipment, and he discovered a more comfortable world of machines and circuits, "of muted colors, soft light, and mechanical perfection." This led to jobs (and many hilarious events) in worlds where strange behavior is seen as normal: developing intricate rocket-shooting guitars for the rock band Kiss and computerized toys for the Milton Bradley company. Finally, at age 40, while Robison was running a successful business repairing high-end cars, a therapist correctly diagnosed him as having Asperger's. 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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Significant Book
I hesitate to say that I loved the book, even though it's really good. It's unique, funny and poignant. However, his atypical thinking produces somewhat atypical writing that may require a bit more mental flexibility than your standard brain-vacation-type novel. He is a good, solid story-teller with an amazing story to tell, and it was certainly compelling and, in my opinion, important to read. I admire that author putting his own story out there in order to validate all those kids with Aspergers syndrome. Admittedly, sometimes my brain just didn't have the energy to empathize with his notably functional writing. I would certainly recommend it, regardless.
Insightful and inspiring.
If you have family or friends who are Aspergian, this is totally worth the read. John's stories will really help you "get it". Thanks for your courage, Sir!
Look Me in the Eye
It’s wonderful how open the author has been letting us know about asperges and the similarities to autism. I’ve found the book so helpful in understanding both.