I look forward to reading some of this author s short stories, as I suspect that is where she really shines.
Every Passionate Reader Lives For That First Page Of A Book That Alerts Her, Straightaway, She Ll Be Sorry When The Book Ends So It Is With Michelle Latiolais Astonishing, Sparklingly Intelligent New NovelThe Work Strives, With Bold Zest, To Arrive At The Marrow Of ThingsLatiolais Triumphs, Folding The Work S Clinical Ruminations Into The Story S Delicious Batter Powerfully Recommended Antioch Review The Novel Counts In Elegant And Sometimes Elegiac Prose The Shadowy And Elusive Opportunities For Redemption Ron Carlson, Author Of Five Skies A Ravishing Intelligence Is At Work In These Pages Elizabeth Tallent, Author Of Honey, On Even NowA Gifted Psychiatrist, Haunted By The Death Of His Young Sister, Seeks To Penetrate The Mysteries Of Childhood Autism In This Beautifully Written, Insightful Investigation Into The Misunderstood Pathways Of The Brain And The HeartMichelle Latiolais Is Associate Professor And Co Director Of The Programs In Writing At The University Of California, Irvine Her Novel Even Now Won The Commonwealth Club Of California Gold Medal For Fiction In This novel is fantastic The depth of information about autism is impressive, and the professional and personal stories are very intricately woven There are also a number of observations that are striking in their insightfulness and the way that they instantly remind me of people I have known and experiences I have had.
Having read her collection of intertwined stories, Widow Stories, I was eager to read this short, highly rated, novel While I was much impressed by that previous collection, I found this novel less so At times, her prose is as fresh and lucid as always, but the story itself, while interesting, just doesn t quite feel real to me By the end of the story, we get to know her central character, Luke, a psychiatrist specializing in treating autistic youth, well Through his patients and his conversations, the author portrays the condition of autism and his approach to treatment as if she were herself a professional clinician On the other hand, his personal life is harder to understand We do come to know his mother, with whom he remains very close, as well as her young friend, Janey, who transitions from being a live in caregiver to working for a floral designer, named Alice Luke initially becomes fascinated by Alice s work, but quickly transitions to being attracted to the artist herself On the other hand, Alice, an artist who designs original floral displays, remains a mystery in the end In addition, Luke seems recklessly impulsive by their second date, he is asking her to move in with him, before they have got to know one another or spent a night together She counters by inviting him to stay overnight at her place, which is a part of her massive studio He projects all sorts of feelings onto Alice, but the reader doesn t really come to understand what makes her tick view spoiler Why she not only eventually agrees to the new arrangement but quickly falls in love with him also remains unclear Like him, she is a bit of a loner, who I imagine must have had considerable difficulty adapting to living with him in his little house hide spoiler Review here Oh the detail, the detail great piece of writing Not a lot happens, yet a lot happens, internally, to the protagonist, psychiatric specialist in Autism, whose own life tends to lack social skills and who is still mourning the death of his sister long ago A perfectionist, he falls for the ethereal floral design expert, fascinating character, and suddenly his life takes off A lot of discussion on Autism and treatment the book was published by Bellevue Press which tends to focus on scientific fiction and it s all fascinating if you want to read about that, and worth reading for the characterizations and lovely descriptive prose I am going back to her early work as well.
The writing was wonderful the characters complex And I read slowly, slowly, as the sentences seemed to demand, requiring patience like that of a percussionist in a symphony orchestra An extremely long and detailed conversation of emotional weight and wit and all sorts of sexual tension takes place between two characters in a speeding car along the cliffs of the California coast, and I was tense the whole time I was reading I was having the very odd experience of being in the vehicle with the characters and nervously willing the distracted driver to look at the road He even takes a cell phone call while driving and a commences a third or fourth layer of conversation I could barely abide it A very California novel As excellent as Widow Stories, though I needed emotional breaks from the mind of protagonist with this one, which isn t really necessary in short stories In fact, I ve decided that any book I choose to begin reading today should not have people in it nor autism, flower arranging, fast cars, death, or hyper intelligent, self conscious, lonely people.
In an interview, Michelle herself says, One of the things we ve forgotten about is the sentence by sentence experience of reading One cannot help but notice the sentences when reading A Proper Knowledge In notes to myself about the book, I wrote while autism may be represented by the inability to speak language in an appropriate way by conforming to established standards of behavior or manners, A Proper Knowledge demonstrates language in the best lyrical sense how a sentence so beautifully wrought can communicate the most mournful and tragic details of a story The sentences mediate the relationship between the characters, especially the autistic children, and the reader We become attached to the children, Polly, Stan, and Henry, to their peculiar obsessions, to their particular cases of autism, and to Luke, their psychiatrist, as the means to understanding them through his meticulous observation As a reader, I marvel at Michelle s meticulous observation for she has written not only a story about childhood autism, loss and healing, but also a story about how the creative mind works in the brilliant psychiatrist, in the extraordinary children, and in the writer herself.