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Joe

The Only Boy In The World

Michael Blastland

An exceptionally haunting memoir that also shows us what it is to be really human.

In a hardware store, Joe sits on a display toilet amidst the throng of customers and wees, smiling serenely. He thumps crying babies. He is amazed when the car he runs in front of actually hits him. He’s funny, fascinating and maddening. Joe is ten and mentally disabled.

This memoir tells his moving story, but also argues that until we know Joe’s life, we can’t understand our own.

Through philosophy, psychology and medical research, the author explains how we are mind-readers, how we make sense of other people and how we understand guilt and innocence, and shows that Joe sets our humanity in sharp relief. But in that case, is Joe part of it?

The author who asks that outrageous question is Joe’s father.

An exceptionally haunting memoir that also shows us what it is to be really human.

In a hardware store, Joe sits on a display toilet amidst the throng of customers and wees, smiling serenely. He thumps crying babies. He is amazed when the car he runs in front of actually hits him. He’s funny, fascinating and maddening. Joe is ten and mentally disabled.

This memoir tells his moving story, but also argues that until we know Joe’s life, we can’t understand our own.

Through philosophy, psychology and medical research, the author explains how we are mind-readers, how we make sense of other people and how we understand guilt and innocence, and shows that Joe sets our humanity in sharp relief. But in that case, is Joe part of it?

The author who asks that outrageous question is Joe’s father.

First published by Profile Books in 2006.

Reviews

“From this careful, serious book emerges a man with a quick wit and a far-seeing eye for what makes life so peculiar… (Joe) stands out as a work of rare enlightenment”.
Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Telegraph.

“This is one of the best books on autism ever written … In a vividly engaging style, Michael Blastland writes about his experiences not only from a personal perspective, but also a sound scientific one. Nobody has come closer to describing the awesome elemental force of autism, and the breath-taking innocence of the autistic child. If you want to know what classic autism is like, close-up and personal – and how autism can provide deep philosophical insights about your own consciousness – then read this book.”
Dame Uta Frith, deputy director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London and author of Autism: Explaining the Enigma

A remarkably readable and compelling book, offering much of value, at many levels. Michael Blastland, an erudite, thoughtful and articulate BBC producer has provided us with an entertaining and educational account of life with Joe, his ten-year-old prototypical, severely autistic son. Read it. Enjoy it. Learn from it. It will haunt you.”
Bernard Rimland, founder of the Autism Society of America, technical consultant for Rain Man.

Deeply personal and moving. Blastland’s beautifully written book offers us a glimpse of the torments endured by the growing number of children born with their cerebral pathways wrongly wired”.
Val Hennessy, Daily Mail

‘This is the best written, most thought-provoking book on autism I have read in years, suitable for anyone with an interest in humanity. Go out and buy it!’, Communication Magazine, Autumn 2006 issue

‘It’s certainly my book of the month’
The Bookseller

‘A far superior piece of non-fiction, both poignant and amusing, and instructive without ever becoming preachy’
Scotland on Sunday

‘Blastland is likeably honest’
Julie Myerson, Daily Telegraph (Books)

‘A moving story… Blastland has performed a remarkable service in baring his family life for us.’
Simon Baron-Cohen, Guardian (Review)

‘It is a brave and frightening book in several ways.’
Nick Coleman, New Scientist

‘An engaging book’
Kenan Malik, Evening Standard

‘Michael Blastland has written a beautiful and deeply thoughtful book about his 10-year-old son Joe.’
Simon Baron-Cohen, The Lancet

‘Joe is a book that deserves to be read. It will speak loudly not just to those interested in autism, but to anyone who is fascinated by the full range of what it means to be human.’
Tim Hall, Catholic Herald

‘A voyage into the deep places of the human spirit.’
Ruth Rendell

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