Twin: A Memoir by Allen Shawn, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Twin: A Memoir

Twin: A Memoir

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by Allen Shawn
     
 

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"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

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.

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.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143120223
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,103,101
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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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