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Dispatches from Ray’s Planet: A Journey through Autism

Dispatches from Ray’s Planet: A Journey through Autism 2023-11-05


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VictorR submitted a new resource:

Dispatches from Ray’s Planet: A Journey through Autism - A collective memoir of an aspie and his sister

As a child, Claire's big brother Ray was bright and inquisitive, but as the two became teenagers, Ray struggled to acquire the social skills that came more easily to others. Claire tried to help, pointing out, after Ray’s many “bloopers,” what he should or shouldn’t have said or done. Ray insisted that he wasn't the problem – "On my planet..." he would explain, there were no social climbers, no subtle hints or subliminal messages to miss, and the telling of little white lies would be...

Read more about this resource...
Chapter List (not numbered):

  • Preface
  • The Quest
  • The Game
  • Whiplash
  • Into the Abyss
  • Courting Trouble
  • Castles in the Sand
  • Lightning Strikes Twice
  • Man in the Rhine
  • Uncle Ray
  • Nothing but the Truth
  • My Soul Would Speak
  • Finding Ray’s Planet
  • Lost in Translation
  • If the Shoe Fits
  • Temple
  • Just Raymond
  • Sacked
  • The Conference
  • I Am What I Do
  • Trailer Trash
  • The Nephew Project
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • The Language of God
  • The New and Improved Ray
  • The Kindest Cut
  • Kissing the Mermaid
  • The Chess Game
  • She Isn’t Broken
  • Uncle Ray’s Legacy
  • A Different Drummer
  • Stargazing
  • Endnotes
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Author
Review #40

Of the memoirs (including anthologies) I’d read, the vast majority are written by autistic persons, and a small number by autistic parents (some of whom are also autistic themselves).

This book seemed interesting to me because it’s written by a sibling of an autistic. Also, it’s a local book / story, and I’m always interested in those, and so here we go for my 40th autistic book review.

Claire starts with a story of how her brother Ray would, as a child, often observe that a lot of what passes for social convention doesn’t necessarily make sense, and that he felt as if he was from another planet. And that she promised that she’d find what that planet was.

The stories presented are approximately chronological, but sometimes break off where it may make sense to introduce additional context or continue along a certain theme, and so is similar to some other memoirs that follow this flowing story format, such as Unforgiving: Memoir of an Asperger Teen which is from another local writer.

The author’s care in presenting the story is evident – she takes care to show us not only what she saw, experienced, and thought, but also Ray’s view of things, and sometimes also the opinions and thoughts of family, friends, and neighbours.

Something of interest is that she notes that her brother Ray, when he is writing, is quite articulate and expressive, and quite different from the one who often makes gaffes when speaking and interacting with others in person, and it is the addition of his written thoughts on his experiences that make this book a rare dual memoir, where we can see Ray and Claire’s experiences of the same events.

Claire has shown her compassion and desire to learn about Ray, and to try to help him, and her own journey into accepting him for who he is, and that in his own way, he has left an impact on the world despite challenges that lead him into a career that may not have made the best of his abilities, and was unfortunately cut short.

While I live a rather different life than Ray, I was often touched by shared challenges, and appreciated this book and its intimate dive into some of Ray’s faux pas and Claire and Ray’s analysis of them. Some of my takeaways include how much of an impact certain events can have on one’s life trajectory, and how without sufficient guidance and support, that we may not find the best potential for our skills and experiences. But yet, we are not defined by our jobs, titles, degrees or anything else. As individuals, we can all contribute to the world in our own way, and that doing our best each day to care for and share with others, we can all contribute to making the world a better place.

Until now, the highest rating I’ve given to a memoir is 5.5. This book has a lot going for it – unusual perspective (sibling of and an older autistic), but also from a storytelling perspective is very well crafted, and the discussions and analyses in it are rather insightful. As such, I will give it a higher rating.

Rating: 5.75/6.0 with commendation
This books sounds really interesting. Thank you for all your work doing this, Victor. I know it's something you enjoy, but I appreciate a well-crafted, thoughtful review. And it's nice to get a sense of these books, since Autism is such a fraught topic. There are so may perspectives on it.
Thank you VictorR. We do appreciate all you bring to the forum. I promised you a lunch, don't forget. Just pm me when you end up on my side of the woods.

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