I recently finished reading ‘Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism,’ the latest book from former McSweeney’s contributor and Collins Library figurehead Paul Collins. ‘Not Even Wrong’ is a perfect melding of the styles of his previous two efforts – ‘Banvard’s Folly,’ which profiled thirteen forgotten scientists, inventors, and tinkerers in rich historical context; and ‘Sixpence House,’ an autobiographical work detailing Collins’ move to Hay-on-Wye, a town in England known for its booktrade-driven economy.
‘Not Even Wrong’ is another autobiographical work – the central narrative is the story of Collins and his wife dealing with the revelation that their son is autistic. Woven into the firsthand account of their slow adjustment to this situation are meticulously researched essays on a handful of topics related to the disease and its history. While ‘Sixpence House’ also frequently departed from its narrative to follow tangents presented by the wealth of printed matter on hand in Hay-on-Wye, similar departures are much more closely related to the central narrative in ‘Not even Wrong.’ Collins paints an engaging historical portrait of autism, exploring the possible connection to feral children, the scandalous evolution of treatment, and the link between the disease and isolationist pursuits (Mathematics, fine art) – touching on the fact that an impressive percentage of fathers of autistic children are… engineers. Highly Recommended. Woo.
Also: Uncollected Paul Collins.