A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.

The bestselling author shares his experience as a participant in a cutting-edge study of the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation on the brains of people on the autism spectrum.

A team of Harvard neuroscientists hoped that stimulating the outer layer of the brain might induce it to rewire itself and increase its emotional IQ. Robison (Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives, 2013, etc.) explains that those on the autism spectrum are not unemotional or uncaring but rather lack self-awareness and the ability to read and respond empathetically to the emotions of others. They miss cues such as tone of voice and facial expression. Because of this, their responses may be inappropriate. Robison relates how, despite his success in a number of fields, he was frustrated by his social disability, which hampered his social relationships. In his youth, he engineered sound and lighting systems for leading rock groups, and he went on to a corporate job designing electronic games. Currently, he owns a business restoring high-end automobiles. In the past decade, the author has also gained recognition as a writer and consultant on autism. For six months, Robison received TMS on a weekly basis. Before and after, he was tested at the lab and also discussed his experience of the treatment with the scientists. He had always loved music but in an abstract way; now, when listening, he felt intense emotions. The author writes movingly of how his response to other people developed a depth previously lacking, and his own responses became more expressive. Within this new mindset, his wife's chronic depression induced a painfully depressed feeling in him, and for the first time, he recognized subtle mockery from someone he thought to be a friend. Although his emotions flattened out somewhat after the sessions ended, he has experienced a lasting emotional sensitivity. He is optimistic about the direction of the research.

A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9689-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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