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Life as an Outsider

by Tim Page

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-52562-6
Publisher: Doubleday

Pulitzer Prize–winning music critic Page (Journalism and Music/Univ. of Southern California) reflects on his bizarre childhood and the late Asperger’s diagnosis that brought a certain measure of clarity to his memories.

Though the author wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his mid-40s, it was clear from his early childhood that something distinguished him from the other children. Asperger’s, a disorder that falls on the autism spectrum, is characterized by, among other things, a pervasive difficulty in connecting with other people, the ability to amass astonishing amounts of what some might call minutia and, if the individual is lucky, a strikingly high level of intelligence. Page was one of the lucky ones, and so the loneliness stemming from being the only two-year-old Maurice Ravel devotee in his suburban neighborhood was perhaps mitigated by having the wit to (occasionally) engage others in his passions. At age 13, he became the subject of Iris and David Hoffman’s documentary, A Day with Filmmaker Timmy Page, in which the juvenile auteur closely directs his childhood friends in The Fall of a Nation, a story of children taking over the world. Because his precocity could not be channeled in any activity that didn’t interest him, Page floundered through school, experimenting heavily with drugs, often failing courses and struggling with loneliness and depression. His memoir is also the story of a man who, having to work extra hard to make friendships, is reluctant to let them go. Throughout, Page is animated by his visceral, passionate love for music and writing.

A lucid, sweetly sentimental testament to growing up different.