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Friday, September 13, 2013
2:03 pm edt
I had a different
lead-in for this entry, until I accessed the graphic to add to my "Current Picks" for this Blog. The novel I am
going to discuss and which I reviewed for www.authorexposure.com, is dubbed "biographical fiction". A genre term which is, I admit,
new to me. I've been reviewing books full-time now for almost two years—including many fictionalized accounts of the
lives of famous and not so famous people—and never thought to consider them biographical, per se, until now. Huh.I though
I knew all those high-fallutin’ literary terms. You learn something new every day and this was my lesson for the week.
Anyway, the biographical fiction I enjoyed reading last week is Conditions are Favorable (Biographical Fiction) by Tara Staley. It is about Orville and Wilbur Wright. You remember them—the brothers that
were the first successful aviators. Actually, it was Orville who manned the inaugural twelve-second jaunt in 1903 a few hundred
feet above the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, while Wilbur shouted instructions and encouragement from the ground. But I am not
one to quibble.
I am one, though, to be fascinated by learning new things about them, or anyone else, for that
matter. Like—are you ready for this?—Orville was "on the spectrum". That is, he had Aspergers Syndrome,
a condition that is a high-functioning form of Autism. He was, as we all know, absolutely brilliant with
machines, but all thumbs when it came to social interaction, especially with women. And, like most people with AS, had grave
difficulty understanding and relating to human feelings and emotions. He took everything in its literal sense. If someone
said, "You're pulling my leg!" he would not understand the simile and deny that he had even touched, let alone physically
pulled a body's leg. And if you told him it was a joke, he would look at you with a look of incomprehension. But he was, by
any and all means, like his brother, an absolute genius. Which leads me to wonder who else in history were also touched with
Here are a few of the more well-known of our contemporaries that I found listed on a really interesting
site at http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_2086.shtml: Dan Aykroyd, the comedian; Darryl Hannah, the actress; Gary Numan, singer and composer; Tim Page, critic and author; and
Satoshi Tajiri, creator and designer of Pokemon (which makes a lot of sense). The list is pretty long and includes investment
bankers, terrorists, and serial killers, as well as creative geniuses. Suspected to also have Aspergers are Abraham Lincoln;
Albert Einstein (that I knew!); Emily Dickinson, which figures, given her chosen withdrawal from the world; George Washington—a
great surprise, but he was aloof in his own way; as well as Marilyn Monroe; and composer Gustav Mahler. There are others that
really took me by surprise. Click on the link and see for yourself.
As for myself, I know a few adults as well
as children who are afflicted in varying degrees. Well, I won't say "afflicted" because most of them—a few
dear and close friends—are absolutely delightfully charming and I revel in their innate talents and abilities to create
new things and ideas as well as impart their vast knowledge of things I can not even imagine. And then, again—surprise,
surprise—there are the signs that I may be one of them, as well. After reading Conditions are Favorable, I listed out the symptoms and took a self-test. I found myself scoring an easy four or five or
so out of twelve; and even some of those were a bit iffy. Even so...Although in a very mild, mild way, I was, am, almost on
the very bottom of the scale. But still...my results are on “the spectum”. Huh. Self-knowledge, even at this
late phase of life explains a lot of things, both personal and private, and otherwise.
So, that being said, I,
needless to say—isn't it any wonder?—was
really taken with Staley's supposition biographical fiction about Orville Wright and a fictional—or
was she?—potential paramour. Take a short flight over to http://www.authorexposure.com and read my review. It's a must read for anyone interested in aviation history and the personal lives of the two men who
brought us our first flight and then soared into the annuals of history.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of
Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her fifth novel.