By Tim Page
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


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