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Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger's Hardcover – September 8, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: John Elder Robison Reviews Parallel Play

John Elder Robison is a writer, speaker, and advocate. He is the author of Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s. Read Robinson's exclusive Amazon guest review of Parallel Play:

The first time I saw Tim Page, I felt a sense of familiarity. He was obviously smart but shy, socially awkward, with a different cadence to his voice. There was an undefined, instinctive "something" that told me Tim was a fellow Aspergian. I feel different and excluded from much human company, but people like Tim are an exception. They are my people. They are me.

Tim says he’s lived life as an outsider, and that’s exactly how I feel too. As a result, even though I’ve grown up to find commercial success, happiness often eludes me. Within minutes of meeting Tim, it was clear he felt the same. Neurotypical people try to welcome us into their world, but Asperger’s blinds us to the olive branches of friendship they proffer. They even shake the leaves in front of our faces, but we just gaze, impassive and oblivious. People assume we’ve rejected them, but in truth we want their friendship and acceptance with every fiber of our being. That’s the heartbreak of it.

Tim’s story illustrates that reality with clear and moving prose. Even when he’s been with people, much of his life has been spent alone. He was always smart, but like me, I wonder what it’s been for. His book shows that genius has its benefits but it’s not a formula for happiness or even general life success. You’ll wonder if his extraordinary abilities are a cause or a result of his isolation. Or are they just more facets of a unique mind?

Anyone with an interest in Asperger’s and the complexity of the human mind will be fascinated by Parallel Play. It will leave you with much to think about.--John Elder Robison

(Photo © Rick Colson)


"Simply lovely… Page does not glorify or mythologize his condition, nor does he render a portrait of a soul victimized by circumstance. The view from this window is merely one of the human condition, painted in emotions known to us all, yet rarely so finely drawn."
The Los Angeles Times

"An improbably lovely memoir… In fascinatingly precise detail and often to pricelessly funny effect, [Page] describes ways in which his efforts to feign normalcy have backfired."
—The New York Times
"The wordsmithing is nimble and lyrical, well-tuned by a writer with a musician's ear."
—The Washington Post Book World

"Fascinating... In this tender but unsparing look back, Page...[leaves] readers to ponder how a condition that bedevils and isolates can also yield magicianly talent, originality, and grit."
—O, The Oprah Magazine


—People magazine's "Great Reads"

"Page expertly fuses information about Asperger's with personal (at times embarrassing) anecdotes - and makes the result feel like Holden Caulfield with a touch of Stephen Daedalus."
—Baltimore Sun 

"Parallel Play tells of Tim's journey from lonely boy genius to Pulitzer-winning writer. One thing becomes clear: Tim's sharp and incisive insights into music and the arts were made possible by Asperger's syndrome, the very condition some see as a disability. I guarantee you'll be inspired, amused, occasionally saddened and deeply touched by his story."
John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye

"A lucid, sweetly sentimental testament to growing up different."

"Tim Page's witty, intellectually stimulating memoir almost made me wish I had Asperger's syndrome."
John Waters

"Tim Page has written an autobiography that is remarkable in terms of eloquently describing the life of someone who has Asperger's syndrome. Being an accomplished and celebrated writer, his vivid use of language captivates the reader. Those who have Asperger's syndrome, and their family members, will identify with Tim's experiences; professionals will appreciate the descriptions of thoughts and perceptions, enabling them to achieve a greater understanding of the syndrome. The casual reader will enjoy the work of a master craftsman."
Tony Attwood

"Parallel Play is a beautifully written account of Asperger's syndrome, a riveting portrayal of what it is like to live in a psychological world that few understand. Tim Page has made this world real, poignant, and more comprehensible. He has written a fascinating and important book."
Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., author of An Unquiet Mind and Professor of Psychiatry at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

"The usual stuff of teenage years--sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll--viewed through the unusual prism of Asperger's syndrome makes for a fascinating YA read."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385525621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385525626
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The bare facts of Tim Page's professional life show that not only has he been tremendously successful, he's very decidedly followed his own path. His lifelong love of music led to employment as a radio show host, a platform that allowed him to interview many of his living heroes in the arts world. He won a Pulitzer Prize writing as the Washington Post's classical music critic, a job title he'd coveted since the age of three or four. When he discovered Dawn Powell, then a mainly forgotten author he found he loved, Page got most of her works back in print, edited books of her diaries and letters, and wrote a critically acclaimed biography. Page is now is a music and arts journalism professor at the University of Southern California, an especially impressive accomplishment since he dropped out of high school because it bored him so much he could not force himself pay attention, even when he stuck himself with pins in a futile effort to stay alert.

While high school couldn't hold his interest, Page has had passions that have brought him attention since he was very young. His fascination with silent movies kept him busy writing, producing and filming his own shaky, black and white versions, using the neighborhood kids as his cast. "A Day with Timmy Page", a documentary about Page's movie making, shows Page as a talented, somewhat tyrannical, very young looking 13-year-old charging around shouting stage directions to his friends and yelling "Lights, action, camera!"

While turning the neighborhood kids into movie stars and chasing his passions into adulthood have caused people to admire Page for "thinking outside the box.", Page confesses early in his newly released memoir Parallel Play that he has never had more than a shadowy, uneasy sense of what those "boxes" are.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Yesh Prabhu, author of The Beech Tree VINE VOICE on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Imagine growing up with Asperger's syndrome, feeling that you are so unlike the other children, but without knowing the cause until you reach middle age. The author of this impressive memoir, Tim Page, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in the year 2000, when he was 46 years old. Writes the author with astonishing clarity: "Nevertheless, the diagnosis was one of those rare clinical confirmations met mostly with relief. Here, finally, was an objective explanation for some of my strengths and weaknesses, the simultaneous capacity for unbroken work and all-encompassing recall, linked inextricably to a driven, uncomfortable personality."

Being singled out by elementary school teachers for expressing unusual thoughts and exhibiting unusual behavior can not but be a baffling and frustrating experience. And yet out of this painful experience has emerged this short but sparkling memoir that captivates and bounces with life because of the author's vigorous prose.

The title of the book refers to his awareness, even as a child, that he did not think, behave, feel and act as the rest of humanity did. With an uncanny ability and clarity of thought, Mr. Page describes precisely how he felt: "At the age of fifty-three, I am left with the melancholy sensation that my life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity."

In a way he had the typical childhood of a boy born with Asperger's syndrome, but who hadn't been diagnosed of the syndrome in early childhood, and so he suffered the consequences: "And so, between the ages of seven and fifteen, I was given glucose-tolerance tests, anti-seizure medications, electroencephalograms, and an occasional Mogadon tablet to shut me down at night.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on May 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tim Page's story is certainly well told; which is not surprising, since he makes his living as an award-winning (the Pulitzer Prize, no less) writer, and was a long-time music critic for the Washington Post. While I didn't find his story quite as interesting as John Elder Robison's LOOK ME IN THE EYE, it was certainly better than the two Temple Grandin books I've read in the past few years. But that is probably not a fair comparison, since Grandin's autism was much more pronounced and severe than either that of Page or Robison, both of whom would probably be classified as very high functioning Asperger's Syndrome. Indeed, Page, who mentions Robison's book, said he had even taught himself by an early age to look people in the eye; his father insisted that he do it. Probably the biggest difference between the Page and Robison books was that Page remained quite reticent about his personal life once he'd reached adulthood. His marriages are only briefly mentioned and his three sons were quite obviously out of bounds, as far as this book was concerned.

But there is one particular passage, found on the last page of his story which caught me - convinced me that I would like Tim Page should I ever meet him, eye contact or not. Here it is:

"I have a mistrust of happy endings. Still, today - this hour - I am satisfied. Soon I will return to a house full of books, most of which I've read and some of which I've created - a youthful dream fulfilled."

Me too, Tim. Be happy. - Tim Bazzett, author of PINHEAD: A LOVE STORY and BOOKLOVER, coming in September 2010
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