Twin: A Memoir

( 30 )

Overview

"Extraordinary...An unsparing but deeply compassionate inquiry into [family] life."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

As Allen Shawn probed the sources of his anxieties while writing the acclaimed Wish I Could Be There, he realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his autistic twin sister. Mary, who has lived in a residency center for more than fifty years. Twin offers a deeply personal account of their divergent lives, and examines society's changing attitudes ...

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Twin: A Memoir

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Overview

"Extraordinary...An unsparing but deeply compassionate inquiry into [family] life."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

As Allen Shawn probed the sources of his anxieties while writing the acclaimed Wish I Could Be There, he realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his autistic twin sister. Mary, who has lived in a residency center for more than fifty years. Twin offers a deeply personal account of their divergent lives, and examines society's changing attitudes toward and understanding of autism. It also provides an intimate look at the Shawns' idiosyncratic family life with their father, the famed longtime editor of The New Yorker, William Shawn. Wrenching, honest, understated, and poetic, Twin is at heart about the mystery of being profoundly bonded to someone who can never be truly understood.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his previous book Wish I Could Be There, Shawn explored his agoraphobia and claustrophobia. Here, Shawn, whose father is the former New Yorker editor William Shawn and his brother the playwright/actor Wallace Shawn, focuses on his twin sister, Mary, who early on is diagnosed with both mental retardation and autism, and institutionalized by the time she is eight. Shawn knows he cannot really penetrate Mary's world, but writes movingly of the lifelong effects of Mary's absence from his. Mary's "sudden, virtually noiseless departure" results in a kind of "survivor guilt," so that "for , to grow up and flourish would mean leaving Mary irrevocably behind." He speculates that his father's inability to face the challenge of caring for her may have been a significant reason for his 37-year affair with colleague Lillian Ross. In addition to his reflections on his own emotional growth and creative evolution, Shawn steps out of the memoir genre to contribute a long informational chapter on how the thinking about autism has changed since it was first identified by Dr. Leo Kanner as a separate disorder from schizophrenia in the 1940s. Whether he's remembering Mary, the deaths of his parents, or his studies with Nadia Boulanger and other great musicians, Shawn writes poetically with honesty and empathy. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143120223
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 965,529
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Allen Shawn is the author of the critically acclaimed Wish I Could Be There and Arnold Schoenberg's Journey. He is a composer and pianist, and has written for The Atlantic Monthly, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Magazine and other publications. He lives in Vermont and is on the faculty of Bennington College.

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Table of Contents

1 Lost 1

2 July 200s 11

3 Together 39

4 Summer 62

5 Things Not Seen 78

6 Cracks Between The Keys 93

7 Dislocations 104

8 Binary Stars 128

9 Finding Words 152

10 Autism 170

11 At Briarcliff 207

Acknowledgments 223

Index 227

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Nena

    It was difficult to understand if the book was about the guy or the sister. It talks mostly about his life and vaguely mentions the sister's autism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 6, 2011

    Beautiful and gracious!

    Composer and writer Allen Shawn shares his experience of separation from his twin. As a young girl, Mary Shawn was diagnosed with cognitive and psychological disabilities. She has spent her life in institutional settings. Meanwhile, Allen Shawn has had success as a composer, musician, and writer (his last book, WISH I COULD BE THERE, looks at his own phobias and psychological issues), while their brother Wallace has triumphed as a playwright and actor.

    But the separation between Mary and her brothers left a painful gap in the family, one which Allen Shawn traces here with delicacy and respect. His language, too, is beautiful and musical, and captures the rhythm of Mary's strong personality and her unique choice of words.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2011

    terrible sample

    I wanted to read a sample to see if it was worth purchasing, but it was too short! All I could gather was a story about a hamster.....lame! Perhaps adding a few more pages to get the reader interested!?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    Did not hold my interest, boring

    Did not finish reading it, read more than I cared to thinking it would get better, it didn't.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Boring..

    I'm not sure who this book is really about? Is this story about himself or his sister who has Autism? He is doing nothing but rambling on and on. Boring..I didn't finish this book. I ended up skippng parts of the story, I got so bored.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Im quitting now

    Ambergaze.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Sagittariosheart

    I will mentor Dragonpaw.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    O ambergaze

    Ys you my

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 17, 2011

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    Posted February 21, 2011

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    Posted January 15, 2011

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    Posted June 13, 2011

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    Posted February 14, 2011

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    Posted January 15, 2011

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