Jul 06

Book Review- Journal of Best Practices

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better HusbandThe Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

This is a very quick-reading memoir about a man learning to keep his Asperger’s syndrome from ruining his marriage. I’m not sure by the end that he completely succeeded, but it was an amusing read.

People looking for tips on how to not ruin their own marriages through lapses due to extreme left-brained or autistic spectrum behavior might be disappointed. This is not a how-to guide. I think that some of the issues of Finch’s personality problems are due to his Asperger’s and some of them are due to being a typical guy. The difference is that Finch realized he had lapses and directed his obsessive-compulsive behavior towards solving his relationship ills as if his wife Kristin’s happiness were a puzzle who needed to be solved.

Best thing about this book was that the stories were short and the pace swift. I read it in one day. Worst thing about the book is that none of the people seem much like people I’d like to know in real life. Finch talks about how he absolutely must have his hour long shower every day. Hour long. Every day. Meanwhile his wife gets up an hour and a half early and gets the kids ready for the sitter before she goes to her job, and he’s so baffled by the routine (because he’s absorbed in himself) that he doesn’t even know if his kid is allowed to have orange juice. You could call that self-absorption due to non-neurotypical thought patterns, but I call it selfish asshole and bad father.

In another scene, he talks about how he expects his wife to do his laundry and fold it (properly!) and put it away for him like his mother did. (In addition to working and raising his children and doing the bulk of the housework.) He expresses sadness and disappointment that he and his wife’s household labor divisions are more equal than that of his parents, and he feels sorry for himself that his wife doesn’t cook and clean like June Cleaver. There’s a whole genre of comedy based on the selfish asshole and indifferent father with a beautiful and long-suffering wife (Simpsons, Family Guy, etc.) but personally, I have a limited tolerance for that sort of arrangement. I also didn’t feel like I got to know Kristin very well. I knew she was beautiful and had been a sorority girl and was very girly. If I had a Y chromosome, perhaps that would be sufficient, but she never felt like someone I got to know very well, or wanted to get to know better. Ironically, I don’t think this is because they are too different, but because they are too normal.

So, the book is good for a few laughs at Finch’s expense, but it didn’t draw me into the author’s life the way other memoirs have. If I had read this looking for tips on how to deal with a neurotypical spouse, I’d probably also find it disappointing, but I’d already been warned it was a memoir so that didn’t bother me.

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