Tag Archives: Australia

“The Rosie Project: A Novel” by Graeme Simsion

I read this novel because I watched someone react to it – she kept laughing. The premise (“it isn’t easy being autistic”) isn’t funny. I enjoyed The Rosie Project much more than I expected. It’s funny AND engaging.

Don Tillman is an autistic genius with a research and teaching appointment in genetics at an Australian university. He knows that his social skills are lacking. Deciding that life would be better with a wife, he designs a questionnaire that he expects will find him the ideal candidate. He also knows he needs practice in dating and socializing. A friend throws a “wildcard” candidate at him. Rosie fails to qualify according to several of Don’s criteria, but she attracts his interest.

Don refers to his quest as The Wife Project. Rosie has a quest of her own, The Father Project. She wants to find her genetic father.

Don and Rosie adventure boldly together, despite the confusion generated by their wildly different mental habits, and form an intense romantic bond.

Recently I read an article (on Facebook?) about the concept of “cognitive diversity”. It has been suggested that problem solving by groups would be improved by the intentional inclusion of people on the autism spectrum. In theory, the differences in the world view should improve decision making outcomes.

I have a further suggestion. What about brain injury survivors? Surely a person who makes a comeback from a major brain injury has a brain that is “different”, with major use of alternative pathways and other “work arounds”. Might he or she see something important in a situation that others would miss?

Meanwhile, I’m going to download Simsion’s next book, The Rosie Effect, against my next train trip or rainy afternoon. Or for when I need a good laugh.

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The Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte Mysteries by Arthur Upfield

I’ve been on a re-reading jag, and this series, published between 1930 and 1963, was a pleasure to revisit. If you are a mystery fan, check out Arthur Upfield. His novels will also appeal to those who love

  • Anthropology
  • Geography/geology/ecology
  • Travel (Australia)

The books I re-read were

  • The Mountains Have a Secret
  • Sinister Stones
  • The Bushman Who Came Back

What is a man named Napoleon Bonaparte doing in Australia? Upfield’s detective hero is (in the words of his time), a half breed, son of an aboriginal woman and a European father, raised and educated to take full advantage of the wisdom of two highly divergent cultures. The capstone of his education was a three year period when he “went bush”, living off the land and becoming an initiated member of his mother’s tribe.

The interactions between these two cultures sets the framework for Upfield’s plots. The stunning, strange Australian landscape provides the background. And Upfield creates wonderful, eccentric characters.

Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte always gets his man. (If he created a female criminal, I’ve missed her.) Along the way, he breaks rules, takes chances and uses mysterious aboriginal wisdom.

If you want to get happily and completely lost in a book, try Upfield. But I’m warning you, the urge to max out your credit card and travel to Australia RIGHT NOW may be overwhelming!

“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty

I started out with one good reason to read this book, and one reason not to.

Of course I am likely to read a book with my name in the title. “ALICE” is not a common name.

But I would generally not choose to read a book in which BRAIN INJURY is a prominent theme. I dealt with that in real life – I don’t need to pile fiction on top of it. I already know too much.

But here was this novel, handed along by a friend, and said to be funny, gripping, etc. So I plunged in!

The “Alice” of the title, a thirty something mother of three who is separated but not divorced, falls and bangs her head in the midst of a gym workout. TEN YEARS of her memory is obliterated. As she rediscovers her lost decade, she has an opportunity for a “rewind” that few ever encounter. Despite pitfalls and complications and new relationships, she and her husband get back together and rebuild their damaged marriage.

I’ll skip the medical critique. I guess they do things differently in Australia.

This turned out to be a pretty good read. I’ll pass it along the next time a friend needs something to take on a plane.