Parallel Play by Tim Page

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Parallel Play
208 pages; Doubleday
As a child and teenager, Tim Page had to master making eye contact. He didn't like being touched. His artwork was borderline-bizarre, his writing single-mindedly detailed, his early fascinations (silent movies and music) headlong, his social instincts basically nonexistent. Teachers sometimes dubbed him a genius—then flunked him. "Perhaps I am not quite a mammal," Page recalls speculating at one point in his fascinating new memoir, Parallel Play.

After a lifetime of silently wondering and fretting about his own "driven, uncomfortable" personality, nine years ago the now-54-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning former music critic for The Washington Post was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome—a developmental disorder with links to autism, whose symptoms include obsessiveness, an inability to connect with same-age peers, and a tendency to misread social cues. In this tender but unsparing look back, Page holds up the pages of his own life for reappraisal—Wait, so this is what I had all along?—leaving readers to ponder how a condition that bedevils and isolates can also yield magicianly talent, originality, and grit.
— Peter Smith