John Robison lives with his wife and son in Amherst, Massachusetts. His company, J E Robison Service, repairs and restores classic cares such as Jaguars, Land Rovers, Rolls Royces and Bentleys. His website is www.johnrobison.com.
First-time writer Robison diagnosed himself with Asperger's syndrome after receiving Tony Attwood's groundbreaking work on the subject from a therapist friend ten years ago. In his well-written and fascinating memoir, the fifty-something brother of Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors) addresses the difficultly of growing up in a household with an abusive and alcoholic father, the social problems he encountered at school, and his great affinity for mechanics. It made no difference that he lacked a high school diploma-Robison's natural skills landed him work as an automobile restorer, Milton Bradley engineer, and stagehand responsible for the pyrotechnic guitars used by rock band KISS in the late 1970s. Despite these successes, the author suffered social difficulties while developing his ability to connect with and understand machines, a thread that is explored in great detail. If there is a drawback here, it is that readers do not get a strong sense of how his self-diagnosis impacted his life. But even among the growing number of books written by those diagnosed later in life, this entry is easily recommended for public and academic libraries with autism collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/07.]-Corey Seeman, Kresge Business Administration Lib., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Deeply felt and often darkly funny, "Look Me in the Eye" is a
-"PEOPLE" magazine, Critics Choice, 4 Stars
"It's a fantastic life story (highlights include building guitars for KISS) told with grace, humor, and a bracing lack of sentimentality."
"Dramatic and revealing."
"Robison's lack of finesse with language is not only forgivable, but an asset to his story . . . His rigid sentences are arguably more telling of his condition than if he had created the most graceful prose this side of Proust."
""Look Me in the Eye" is a fantastic read that takes readers into the mind of an Aspergian both through its plot and through the calm, logical style in which Robison writes. . . Even if you have no personal connections with Asperger's, you'll find that Robison--like his brother, Burroughs--has a life worth reading about."
"Not only does Robison share with his famous brother, Augusten Burroughs ("Running With Scissors"), a talent for writing; he also has that same deadpan, biting humor that's so irresistible."
"There's an endearing quality to Robison and his story that transcends the "Scissors" connection ..." Look Me in the Eye" is often drolly funny and seldom angry or self-pitying. Even when describing his fear that he'd grow up to be a sociopathic killer, Robison brings a light touch to what could be construed as dark subject matter...Robison is also a natural storyteller and engaging conversationalist."
--"The Boston Globe
" "This is no misery memoir...[Robison] is a gifted storyteller with a deadpan sense of humour and the book is arollicking read.
"Robison's memoir is must reading for its unblinking (as only an Aspergian can) glimpse into the life of a person who had to wait decades for the medical community to catch up with him."
""Well-written and fascinating." --"Library Journal
""Thoughtful and thoroughly memorable...Moving...In the end, Robison succeeds in his goal of "helping those who are struggling to grow up or live with Asperger's" to see how it "is not a disease" but "a way of being" that needs no cure except understanding and encouragement from others."
"Affecting, on occasion surprisingly comic memoir about growing up with Asperger's syndrome....The view from inside this little-understood disorder offers both cold comfort and real hope, which makes it an exceptionally useful contribution to the literature.
"Of course this book is brilliant; my big brother wrote it. But even if it hadn't been created by my big, lumbering, swearing, unshaven 'early man' sibling, this is as sweet and funny and sad and true and heartfelt a memoir as one could find, utterly unspoiled, uninfluenced, and original."
--from the foreword by Augusten Burroughs, author of "Running with Scissors
"""Look Me In The Eye" is a wonderful surprise on so many levels: it is compassionate, funny, and deeply insightful. By the end, I realized my vision of the world had undergone a slight but permanent alteration; I had taken for granted that our behavioral conventions were meaningful, when in fact they are arbitrary. That he is able to illuminate something so simple (but hidden, and unalterable) proves that John Elder Robisonis at least as good a writer as he is an engineer, if not better."
--Haven Kimmel (who was in attendance at the 1978 KISS tour*), author of "A Girl Named Zippy
""I hugely enjoyed reading "Look Me in the Eye," This book is a wild rollercoaster ride through John Robison's life--from troubled teenage prankster to successful employment in electronics, music, and classic cars. A kindly professor introduced him to electrical engineering, which led to jobs where he found techie soulmates that were like him. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of an engineer which should be on the reading list of anyone who is interested in the human mind."
--Temple Grandin, author of "Thinking in Pictures "and" Animals in Translation"
"John Robison's book is an immensely affecting account of a life lived according to his gifts rather than his limitations. His story provides ample evidence for my belief that individuals on the autistic spectrum are just as capable of rich and productive lives as anyone else."
--Daniel Tammet, author of "Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant"
" "From the Hardcover edition."
Robison's thoughtful and thoroughly memorable account of living with Asperger's syndrome is assured of media attention (and sales) due in part to his brother Augusten Burroughs's brief but fascinating description of Robison in Running with Scissors. But Robison's story is much more fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood, his abusive alcoholic father and his mentally disturbed mother. Robison describes how from nursery school on he could not communicate effectively with others, something his brain "is not wired to do," since kids with Asperger's don't recognize "common social cues" and "body language or facial expressions." Failing in junior high, Robison was encouraged by some audiovisual teachers to fix their broken equipment, and he discovered a more comfortable world of machines and circuits, "of muted colors, soft light, and mechanical perfection." This led to jobs (and many hilarious events) in worlds where strange behavior is seen as normal: developing intricate rocket-shooting guitars for the rock band Kiss and computerized toys for the Milton Bradley company. Finally, at age 40, while Robison was running a successful business repairing high-end cars, a therapist correctly diagnosed him as having Asperger's. In the end, Robison succeeds in his goal of "helping those who are struggling to grow up or live with Asperger's" to see how it "is not a disease" but "a way of being" that needs no cure except understanding and encouragement from others. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.