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. Joe is ten and mentally disabled. He's funny, fascinating and maddening, and 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.
"No less than a voyage into the deep places of the human spirit and a vision of what lies beneath conventional notions of sanity and aberration" Ruth Rendell "Blastland has performed a remarkable service in baring his family life for us" Simon Baron-Cohen (author of The Essential Difference), Guardian "An uncompromising philosophical inquiry...stands out as a work of rare enlightenment" Sunday Telegraph "Vividly engaging. If you want to know what classic autism is like, close-up and personal then read this book" Uta Frith, PhD, University College London and author of Autism: Explaining the Enigma "Compelling. Read it. Enjoy it. Learn from it. It will haunt you." Bernard Rimland, PhD, consultant for Rain Man"
Michael Blastland was born in Glasgow. A journalist all his professional life, he started on weekly newspapers before moving to the BBC where he makes current affairs programmes for Radio 4, such as Analysis, More or Less and the historical series Why Did We Do That? He lives in Hertfordshire, often with his daughter Cait, less often and less quietly with his son Joe, when he's at home.