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Continued: John Elder Robison's new book takes a fresh look at autism

  • Article by: LAURIE HERTZEL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 19, 2013 - 5:40 PM

A: I do most of my writing in the library of my home, and in my office here at work. I’m answering your questions from my desk at Robison Service.

My library at home is the highest point in the house, above the garage. I can see the whole length of my driveway from the window, and I watch for animals — weasels, turkeys, bears, foxes and squirrels. We live in a rural area, and the animals have been getting much more aggressive of late. Humans used to be at the top of the food chain, but now I’m not so sure. I walk around the house in the morning and see footprints in the snow where they stood at the ground-floor windows, and marks where they rested their forelegs on the sills, looking in. Are they watching TV, or planning the takeover?

Q: How do you get around the distractions of the Internet?

A: It’s true that I have far more distractions now than I did before the Internet, Facebook and my increased visibility as an author. I don’t have a special trick, though. … I just decide to write something and I sit down and do it. It’s possible that I have less trouble in this area because I’m autistic. One trait of autism is that people like me can concentrate more deeply than ordinary people, and that can help when it comes to writing.


Q: Do you have a favorite book from childhood?

A: I liked the Encyclopedia Britannica a lot. I also liked Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys, especially the old brown hardcover editions I used to find at my grandparents’.


Q: What are you reading right now?

A: This past weekend I read a new book — “Hitmaker,” by Tommy Mottola, the former president of Sony Music. I enjoyed that story because I’d worked with many of the people he wrote about during my own years designing fire-breathing guitars for Kiss and traveling with the rock bands who used my sound equipment.


Q: What’s been the best place so far to do a reading?

A: I’ve been honored to be invited to give talks at prestigious places, like the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control or the Harvard Graduate School of Education. And I’ve enjoyed giving talks in spectacular venues. The finest of those was the free-form aluminum and glass BMW Amphitheatre in Melbourne, Australia.


Q: Which authors have inspired you?

A: My brother’s book, “Running With Scissors” — and the way people welcomed and accepted him despite such an awful childhood story — gave me the courage to share my own stories. I’d never have written a book if not for that.


Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302 on Twitter @StribBooks

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  • John E. Robison and his son, Cubby.


    What: The author of “Raising Cubby” and “Look Me in the Eye” will speak at Talk of the Stacks.

    When: 7 p.m. Thu.

    Where: Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.

    Tickets: Free. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

    Next Talk of the Stacks: Andrei Codrescu, April 4.

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