Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Laugh Along with David Finch as He Chronicles The Journal of Best Practices at Boswell on Tuesday, January 17.

I would love to say I discovered David Finch's humorous take on Asperger's in his original New York Times Magazine essay, "Somewhere Inside, a Path to Empathy," but I must admit I am a consistent but sometimes spotty reader of the Sunday paper. Instead it was the reading room at the Great Lakes booksellers fall trade show where I fell for his charms. That's why I am particularly excited that Finch will be speaking at Boswell on Tuesday, January 17, at 7 pm.

He was talking about his semi-professional (or was it semi-amateur) diagnosis of Asperger's by his wife, a speech therapist, after giving him a battery of questions. The entire room was laughing along with Finch's descriptions of his behavior, his coping mechanisms. We definitely weren't laughing at David, but with him, as he described his behaviors, his coping methods, his take on others and himself. He made his diagnosis real and understandable to everyone in the audience.

What we learn from his new memoir, The Journal of Best Practices, is that this journey to coping has involved a lot of learned behavior. One particularly intriguing strategy that Finch had taken was to assume characters, or as he notes, "versions of myself that are optimized for the social environment at hand. Conversations must be scripted, facial expressions rehearsed, personalities summoned."

Much of the story is about learning to be in a relationship with others, particularly Finch's wife Kristen. And there is a lot of learning going on. Getting the kids ready for school for example. Not that easy.

I thought this book was great and yes, wrote a rec for the Indie Next list for January*, but ever since I read a take on The Journal of Best Practices from Mel, one of our new booksellers, anything I write pales in comparison. So I think the best thing to do is link you over to her "Of Horses and High Speed" essay in her personal blog, Nefarious Fiddlesticks, and let you read it for yourself.

I can assure you that this event on Tuesday, January 17, 7 pm, is going to be both insightful and entertaining. Hope to see you there.

*Here's my write-up for the American Booksellers Asosociation Indie Next list. you can read about the rest of the January picks here:
The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch.
“After five years of a struggling marriage, Finch’s wife, Kris, made a breakthrough guess — her husband had Asperger syndrome. The Journal of Best Practices is David Finch’s well-documented attempt to go beyond his previous efforts at fitting in and to actually learn to do things like listen, empathize, and ‘go with the flow.’ Finch still doesn’t like flying in a plane or unsolicited wetness, but the results of his determination are not just meaningful to his family, but also an enlightening, endearing, and amusing chronicle for the rest of us.”

1 comment:

Melissa Morrow said...

Thanks for the link, Daniel! I can't wait to meet David Finch and witness this charm. It's going to be amazing!