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Thirty-fourth Issue
Volume 14, No. 2
 




..where to find the mrb

The Mrb Is Available At The Following Locations:


features

Niko
By Eric Boodman

The Anatomy Of Clay
By Abby Paige

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children / Mobilizing The Will To Intervene: Leadership To Prevent Mass Atrocities
By Aparna Sanyal


fiction

Bats Or Swallows
Reviewed by Taylor Tower

Lives: Whole And Otherwise
Reviewed by Rosel Kim

Midway
Reviewed by Kimberly Bourgeois

Spat The Dummy
Reviewed by Ian McGillis

The Obituary
Reviewed by Anna Leventhal

Three Deaths
Reviewed by Rob Sherren



non-fiction

Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education In Autism
Reviewed by Leila Marshy

Making Waves: The Continuing Portuguese Adventure
Reviewed by Joni Dufour

The Republic Of Therapy
Reviewed by Sarah Fletcher

Writing In The Time Of Nationalism: From Two Solitudes To Blue Metropolis
Reviewed by Gregory J. Reid

You Could Lose An Eye: My First 80 Years In Montreal
Reviewed by Joel Yanofsky


non-fiction at a glance

Eeyou Istchee: Land Of The Cree/terre Des Cris
Reviewed by Carol Katz

The Origin Of A Person
Reviewed by Prosenjit Dey Chaudhury



poetry

Blood Is Blood
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Hard Feelings
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Poets And Killers
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Song Of The Taxidermist
Reviewed by Bert Almon

The Collected Books Of Artie Gold
Reviewed by Bert Almon

The Truth Of Houses
Reviewed by Bert Almon

Where We Might Have Been
Reviewed by Bert Almon


the mile end café

The October Crisis, 1970 An Insider’s View/trudeau's Darkest Hour, War Measures In Time Of Peace, October 1970
Reviewed by Mélanie Grondin


the mrb cartoon

Image By Jean-philippe Marcotte


young readers

Captured: The Divided Realms Series, Book 1
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Into The Mist: The Story Of The Empress Of Ireland
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Milo: Sticky Notes And Brain Freeze
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Noni Says No
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Raffi’s New Friend
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Scaredy Squirrel Has A Birthday Party
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Today, Maybe
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham

Without You
Reviewed by Andrea Belcham




Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education In Autism
Joel Yanofsky
$34.00
paper 288 pp.
Viking Canada ISBN 9780670065103
non-fiction

Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education in Autism
The Book of Joel

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New Document Joel Yanofsky and his wife share an Asshole List – a running tab of fathers who are even worse than he is. When they meet a new one or hear stories, Joel looks so good in comparison that rare marital sex ensues. Hey, I’m only reporting what I read.

Author of the new memoir Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education in Autism, Yanofsky – though he portrays himself as not so charming a person – is an endearing and intelligent writer. After years devoted to reading, he finds himself, in his forties, finally ready for “[my] life to have the kind of narrative structure and coherence it had always lacked.” In other words, settle down and have a baby.

Jonah’s birth is a small miracle. Yanofsky and his wife, together only briefly when she gets pregnant, say yes to this great adventure. The child is so beautiful that Yanofsky alf-seriously wonders if Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s new baby had been “switched at birth and that somewhere, in Hollywood or Martha’s Vineyard, our real kid had a nanny and a pony and a swimming pool ...” As he grows into toddlerhood, “it was almost embarrassing. There was no way to ac- count for his exquisite cheekbones, his strong chin, his light brown hair, and his perfectly unobtrusive nose.”

But this happiness has strings attached. Soon they are getting notes from daycare, well-meaning friends avert their eyes, and their son’s odd proclivities begin to add up to something. A diagnosis is finally delivered: autism. The shock is almost unbearable, especially when the presiding doctor closes the session with a cheerful, “Have a nice drive home.”

What follows is a wide-ranging journey through the chaos of the next eight years of their lives. At one point there are “as many as four therapists doing three-hour shifts seven days a week” in their house. Bouncing between strategies, approaches and orthodoxies, Yanofsky and his wife are at turns confident and desperate. Yanofsky admits, “Cynthia and I retreated to our bedroom, closed the door, and put pillows over our heads to shut out what was being inflicted on our son, what we were, by proxy, inflicting on him.”

The author dives bravely into the contradictions and conflicts that raising an autistic child – let alone any child – engenders. It comes close to undoing Yanofsky’s marriage, and it clearly undoes Yanofsky daily. Recalling the book of Job, he identifies with the Biblical character’s endless travails. “What must [Job] have been thinking when it finally sunk in that all of it was gone? Only one thing: It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Yanofsky doesn’t shy away from his own shortcomings. He confesses that he ducks out of family duties and obligations: “I’m a consistent no-show at Jonah’s play dates.” Other shortcomings are left to the reader to judge, such as how he pulls back from hugging or kissing Jonah. And in case the reader misses it, there’s always his wife to point out a flaw. The repeated intrusions of Cynthia, in the form of italicized commentaries inserted by her husband, are annoying and frivolous. “First, sweetheart, calm down.” “Breathe, sweet- heart.” “It’s nothing you can’t do, too, sweetheart.” “Who are you talking about, sweetheart? Because that sounds like you.” It’s one thing for someone to be written into a memoir, but quite another for him or her to function as a literary device.

Yanofsky’s journey from shock to denial, then acceptance to pride is an affecting one. In between, father and son share a sense of humour that is genuinely wonky. It is in these moments of sharing, when the two collaborate on an ongoing bedtime story about the “Worst-Daddy- Ever,” or when Yanofsky wonders whether he should do something about an idea for the “S.O.S. League or Superheroes on the Spectrum,” that you know that Bad Animals will have a great sequel, whatever it’s called.

Leila Marshy is literary editor of The Rover.