Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, A Stone Boat, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, winner of fourteen national awards, including the 2001 National Book Award, and Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity.

From his Q & A with David Daley at Salon:

Each chapter in [Far From the Tree] presents a very unique kind of difference. What ties them together, and should we tie them together?

All of these people that I’ve been talking to are dealing with very specific kinds of difference and feeling, in most instances, isolated by the condition they had. There aren’t that many people with schizophrenia; there aren’t that many people with dwarfism; there aren’t that many people in any of these categories. And I found out that there is so much that their experiences have in common — that process of accommodating, accepting, loving, even celebrating a child who had a marked difference from what the parents had in mind was really quite consistent from group to group. It didn’t really matter whether we were looking at what the child did, as we were in the crime chapter; or how the child was born, in the Down Syndrome chapter. That was consistent. And it had a lot in common, in my view, with the experience I had negotiated as the gay child of straight parents. And so I think that sense of difference is actually something that almost everyone has in common, rather than something that isolates people. I didn’t know that’s what I was working on in the beginning.

The other theme that runs through the book is the very complex relationship between illness and identity — that what some people see as something which needs to be cured is, to others, a defining characteristic and community. And that the culture shifts, and sometimes what was once viewed as an illness, becomes seen as identity.

Right. When, I was born being gay was an illness and in my adult life it’s an identity. And I don’t know which of the categories I’ve written about will make that switch to what degree at what time. There’s no crystal ball. But I do have the feeling, very strongly, that these are...[read on]
See Andrew Solomon five top books about family love.

--Marshal Zeringue