Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two-fer Weekend

This weekend, I finished two totally different books, and because I've been able to separate my audiobook experiences from print text, they don't interfere with one another any more than two distinct conversations would.

The first, James Meek's The People's Act of Love challenged me at first. I've had a copy of the book on my shelf since it arrived from Lemuria, but since so many others competed for my attention, I hadn't started it. I started the audio version and almost stopped reading at first. Set in Russia in early 1900's, the book was filled with characters whose Russian name I couldn't immediately see in my head. At first I wondered if I could make it through all 12 CDs. As often happens to the patient reader, however, I was rewarded by perseverance. I continued in part because of the author's skillful use of the language, the surprising similes, the revealing human thought.

Athough I won't give anything away, the real hook comes in the war experiences of the husband of Anya, one of the main characters in the story. Her experiences really transcend the time and place in which the novel is set. When I reached the end, I was so glad I'd finished.

Today, I finished John Elder Robinson's Look Me in the Eye. As I reached the end, I realized this would be a great book for our students. We had such a strong response to Glass Castle in the fall. This too is the story of an adult child who reaches the point of understanding and forgiving parents. Robinson's more famous brother Augusten Burroughs included him as a character in his book Running with Scissors. At readings, Burroughs was surprised by the interest in John's Asperger's Syndrome (a form of austism that went undetected until he was forty.)

This memoir offers so much insight not only into those with Asperger's but into anyone whose inner problems prevent their appearing normal. That he has been so successful, developing strategies on his own to overcome many of his strangest behaviors is so encouraging. Teachers can also benefit from the reminder that misbehavior and academic failure have been root causes. Taking the time to look beyond differences might help save others from defeat and loneliness.

Another reason I can imagine using this book in class is the resource information he adds in the back of the book--contact information about his business, his syndrome, and his interests, including the band KISS for whom he created those incredible exploding guitars that really played.

Now I must exercise self control, waiting until research papers and proposals are graded before begining the next good book.

No comments: