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January 2011



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Tim Page Photo: Maggie Smith 

Books of The Times

Reflections on a Life Lived Way Outside the Box

Published: September 2, 2009

When Tim Page was a teenager, he thought of Howard Hughes, Glenn Gould, Bobby Fischer and J. D. Salinger as role models. He sensed that he too might be famous someday, but he feared that he would be strangely alienated and alone.

The first prediction came true, and then some: Mr. Page won a Pulitzer Prize for his music criticism at The Washington Post (he was also a critic at The New York Times). He has written such a superbly incisive biography of the once-forgotten novelist Dawn Powell that she is now well remembered, and edited volumes of Powell’s diaries and letters. Now, in his mid-50s, he has written an improbably lovely memoir about the loneliness that has made him feel throughout his life that he is “not quite a mammal.”

“In the years since the phrase became a cliché, I have received any number of compliments for my supposed ability to ‘think outside the box,’ ” Mr. Page writes in “Parallel Play” (an expanded version of material published in The New Yorker). But for him thinking inside the box is at best a mechanical exercise based on mimicry; at worst it’s an impossibility.

In fascinatingly precise detail and often to pricelessly funny effect, he describes ways in which his efforts to feign normalcy have backfired. Recalling an adolescent clinch with a young woman who asked if he’d still care about her the next day, he says he pondered the question, then told her truthfully that he had no idea. “Wrong answer,” he wryly recalls.

When he was 45, Mr. Page learned that he had the autistic disorder called Asperger’s syndrome. He was relieved to know that his condition was quantifiable and that others share the same general symptoms. But he was also much too smart and self-aware to feel true kinship with other Aspies, as he calls them.

Read Article in Full:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/books/03maslin.html?_r=1&hp&ex=&ei=&partner=


 Parallel Play: Growing Up with Undiagnosed Asperger’s

Tim Page




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