An astute, if sometimes-undisciplined, remembrance.

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ADDERALL BLUES

A personal memoir recounts a young man’s battle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as the drugs he used to tame it.

Debut author Robinson attended the prestigious Ranney School in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, but started to experience academic trouble in the fifth grade. He perennially questioned his own intelligence, and although he tested well, he was beset by the anger, frustration, and self-recrimination that resulted from chronic underperformance. The author was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, and while he was at Tulane University, he says, he was introduced to Adderall by his girlfriend. Robinson had already sought a reprieve from chronic restlessness in alcohol with predictably unspectacular results, and Adderall, he felt, was like a miracle—and he became woefully dependent upon it. But even after he confessed to his therapist that he’d developed an addiction, he was prescribed it yet again. After he manically pledged to go on a hunger strike to protest American troops in Iraq, his father called paramedics to have him hospitalized. Later, the author would wrestle with another drug problem, this time with Ritalin, after a failed attempt to get a show produced in Hollywood. Robinson finally repaired his life, learned to manage his ADHD, started his own debt-settlement business, and got married. Although this book is principally a memoir, the author also discusses his reservations about the psychiatric community’s reliance on medication to treat cognitive disorders, as well as the American educational system’s failure to accommodate the needs of afflicted students. Robinson’s remembrance is an intimate one, brimming with courageous candor and bracing self-critique. He intelligently describes the alienation he felt, due to his condition: he was mortified by his underachievement and envied “neurotypicals.” What emerges is a poignant self-portrait of a rather young man (he was 23 years old when he wrote this book) who’s exceedingly talented but just as angry—not just about his condition, but also at the lack of resources available to assist those who have it. A philosophy major in college, Robinson is accustomed to plumbing the depths of meaning in life, and he often does so with charm and verve. Problematically, though, the prose can be clumsy and leaden, with real insights buried in interminable sentences, often marred with mistakes: “In the utilitarian point of view of our nation’s school system, the education that maximizes the number of students who benefit from a curriculum geared toward the predominant a [sic] learning style are ultimately responsible for minimizing the potential of students with different cognitive styles.” Also, the author’s youthful spiritedness can also come across as callowness at times; he’s peremptorily dismissive of religion and too often describes traditional education as an exercise in herd-mentality brainwashing. Further, while his criticisms of higher education and psychiatry are trenchant, he offers little in the way of substantive alternatives. One may forgive Robinson for such unripe reflections, given his age, but it’s also hard not to hope for a more seasoned sequel further down the line.

An astute, if sometimes-undisciplined, remembrance.

Pub Date: July 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63393-431-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Koehler Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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