Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=89355
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 8:59:15 PM CST
WASHINGTON – I wasn’t the kid who looked up to rock stars. Sure, I had a New Kids on the Block sleeping bag, but that was about it. And I don’t think I ever used it, except once when my mom grabbed it to smother a log that had popped out of our fireplace and onto the living room rug.
No, rock stars and actors weren’t my heroes. I was all about authors. These were the people whose names were in bold face on my bookshelves, and who, I imagined, slaved over a typewriter for years perfecting each sentence and every punctuation mark. I always thought that was far more impressive than belting out some sappy pop number.
This may have been why I was considered a nerd from kindergarten through….present day.
So when I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, I jumped at it. Actually, I hopped around like a giddy little girl and told everyone I knew, even the people who I knew wouldn’t care.
I e-mailed the author’s publicist on a whim, thinking I’d have to wait weeks to get a response. About an hour after I sent the e-mail, the author called me on my cell phone. And once again, I bounced around like a kid who had a bit too much sugar.
Last weekend, I interviewed John Elder Robison at his home in Amherst, Mass. It was a seven-hour drive from Washington, but well worth it. The book is a vivid, no holds barred memoir of Robison’s life with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. It sounds hokey, but his story is a lot about overcoming obstacles and it’s given me a lot of hope.
It wasn’t a cheesy “Reading Rainbow” sort of moment. His life really is an open book – no pun intended. Little nuances of his personality that he wrote about were in front of me, live, in person. He called his wife and son by the pet names he usesin his book. Things that I had read but forgotten popped into my head almost as if they were my memories.
Robison spends a good portion of the book talking about his passion for restoring classic and high-end cars. And there they were: sitting in his garage, in his basement, in his driveway.
During our interview, I found myself thinking, ‘I already know this. He doesn’t have to explain it again.’ When I asked him if it was weird that strangers knew his whole life story, he just said that the response has been overwhelmingly positive and basically that “It is what it is.”
I was a little in awe about how nonchalant someone could be about exposing nearly every aspect of his life.
Now that I think about it, I guess maybe it was a bit of a Reading Rainbow moment.