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Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir
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About the Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of seven previous books, including the novel Triburbia and the acclaimed memoir Boy Alone. His award-winning writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories 2009 and 2013, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012. Born in Kobe, Japan, he has lived in Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and currently lives in Pacific Palisades, California, with his wife, Silka, and their daughters, Esmee and Lola.

Reviews

Sibling rivalry-and love-of a ravaging kind is the subject of this unsparing memoir of the author's life with his severely autistic brother. Journalist Greenfeld (Standard Deviations) describes his brother, Noah, as a "spitting, jibbering, finger-twiddling, head-bobbing idiot"; unable to speak or clean himself and given to violent tantrums, Noah and his utter indifference to others makes him permanently "alone." But Karl feels almost as alienated; with his parents preoccupied with Noah's needs (and Noah's celebrity after his father, Joshua, wrote a bestselling account of his illness in A Child Called Noah), he turns to drugs and petty crime in the teenage wasteland of suburban Los Angeles. Greenfeld doesn't flinch in his depiction of Noah's raging dysfunctions or his critique of a callous mental health-care system and arrogant autism-research establishment. (He's especially hard on the psychoanalytic theories of the "Viennese charlatan" Bruno Bettelheim.) But the author's self-portrait is equally lacerating; he often wallows in self-pity-"I return home stoned, drunk, puking on myself as I sit defecating into the toilet, crying to my parents... that I am a failure"-and owns up to the coldness that Noah's condition can provoke in him. The result is a bleak but affecting chronicle of a family simultaneously shattered and bound tight by autism. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Gripping." -- Suki Casanave, Washington Post

Noah Greenfeld, an autistic adult in his forties, has been the subject of four books by his parents Josh Greenfeld and Fumiko Kometani. Now his brother, journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld, provides his perspective on growing up with a severely autistic brother during an era when the condition was not very well understood. This well-crafted book illustrates Karl's years of confusion and embarrassment, changing from a childlike to an adult tone as the author grows up. The book is most powerful when Karl imagines what his life would have been like had his brother's treatment worked. Verdict While it is not the best story about autism and siblings (see Judy Karasik and Paul Karasik's The Ride Together), it still is a worthwhile addition to the literature.-Corey Seeman, Kresge Business Administration Lib., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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