Joel Yanofsky gives us the funny, heart-wrenching account of a year in the life of a father who struggles to enter his son’s world, the world of autism, using the materials he knows best, including self-help books, literary classics, and old movies.
Joel Yanofsky tried for years to start this memoir. “It’s not just going to be about autism,” he told his wife, Cynthia. “It’s going to be about parenthood and marriage, about hope and despair, and storytelling, too.”
“Marriage?” Cynthia said. “What about marriage?”
A veteran book reviewer, Yanofsky has spent a lifetime immersed in literature (not to mention old movies and old jokes), which he calls shtick. This account of a year in the life of a family describes a father’s struggle to enter his son’s world, the world of autism, using the materials he knows best: self-help books, feel-good memoirs, literary classics from the Bible to Dr. Seuss, old movies, and, yes, shtick. Funny, wrenching, and unfailingly candid, Bad Animals is both an exploration of a baffling condition and a quirky love story told by a gifted writer.
Often there is no good answer to the question "why me?"
Joel Yanofsky, 46, an award-winning writer, asks that question when his only son, at age 4, is diagnosed with autism. Bad Animals, named for the book the younger Yanofsky creates at school, is the memoir of one year in both their lives. A year when the father searches for an answer to the eternal question and also an entry into his son’s world using the tools that have never previously failed him: books, movies, and shtick. Performed in a manner that is by turns humorous, tear-inducing, and inspirational, it is also a year that helps define an extraordinary love story between father and son.
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