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A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World Hardcover – November 17, 2005
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*Starred Review* Antonetta's galvanizing first book, Body Toxic (2001), marked the emergence of a poetic and frank chronicler of life lived in a polluted world. She now offers a kinetic, impressionistic, and philosophical inquiry into neurodiversity, a term for "people hardwired to think differently from the norm." This is a vital subject for Antonetta, who wryly describes the "circus" she carries in her head because of bipolar disorder. As inventive and full of mischief and deep feeling as Diane Ackerman, as adept at translating experience into life lessons as Anne Lamott, and an excellent adjunct to Oliver Sacks, Antonetta fashions an intriguingly meandering narrative as she describes her atypical neurological experiences, portrays a "many-headed" friend--a man who harbors multiple female personalities--reports on the murder trial of a disturbed teen, wonders about the fate of atypical neurology in a future in which genetic engineering is commonplace, and offers startling theories about the phenomenal increase in autism. Once again, Antonetta alters our perception of ourselves and our place in the biosphere as she makes unexpected connections, articulates provocative observations, and leaves readers pondering a startling question: Is neurodiversity as essential to life as biodiversity? Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Susanne Antonetta is the author of the award-winning memoir Body Toxic, as well as five collections of poetry.
Top customer reviews
She makes the research on neurodiversity much more understandable, and her writing about her experience as a mother is truly moving.
"A Mind Apart" is a significant step toward understanding and acceptance of the variation nature has given us in terms of how we think. I can't recommend it more highly.
The concepts and thought provoking, controversial issues brought forth in this book may one day (soon) present themselves and force the public and society to face that which would have been considered purely science fiction a mere decade ago. However, such topics need to be thoroughly fleshed out, utilizing every available means. I found it very difficult to read, many important facets were left incomplete and this left me feeling more than bit unsatisfied, confused and let down. I would love to see these issues covered again - thoroughly. Worth a look, but make sure you have lots of patience, as this is not a fast read and check it out from library!
In Antonetta's A Mind Apart, bodies, minds and reports from the world collide. A Pacific Northwest community gathers to view a dead whale on the beach. A teenager kills a neighbor boy as a kind of science experiment. The husband of the narrator's cousin has a seeming-sorority of female characters living the mosaic of his multiple personalities, all of whom send her email. The intellectual pleasures of this work occur in the questions it asks about how a culture defines "normal" and what we might lose if genetic engineering succeeds in clarifying the borderline of acceptable human brain process.
The literary pleasures of this work alight out of the layering of many aspects and approaches, the content coming to the page through the voice of a poet, diarist, essayist and reporter who has told us from the start that her skin is too thin to enable her to stave off much of what she finds urgently stacked up in the world.
Antonetta is a writer to whose work I am particularly attuned, because of the ways her narrator is relatively unmasked, her structures metaphorical and lyrically innovative, her interests multiple and surprisingly connected, her aims to layer her own life with that of the larger questions of the world palpable and original. I can't think of many writers who hit all those notes.
I've long told students that my understanding of the "writer's voice" is as a kind of blueprint of the writer's body and mind, translated into language. For the lyric sensibility, the body with too few shields, the mind that experiences the atmosphere of life as stacked and layered and splintered and broken, while at the same time hears human existence as a mad and varied song, may have little choice but to write in such forms. This beautiful book is to my ear is an essential contribution to creative nonfiction form.
Barrie Jean Borich
author of My Lesbian Husband
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