Strange is not a word he should use (it’s not quite politically correct), but sometimes Joel Yanofsky can think of no other way to describe life with his son, Jonah—life with autism. Jonah is “on the spectrum” of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but knowing the correct terminology makes it no easier for Yanofsky to understand his ten-year-old son’s complicated relationship with the world.
While his wife, Cynthia, an art therapist, assumed the burden of researching ASD and investigating effective treatments for Jonah, Yanofsky tried other approaches. In this funny and moving account of a year in their life together, he chronicles his struggle to enter his son’s world using the materials he knows best: self-help books, feel-good memoirs, and literary classics ranging from the Old Testament to Dr. Seuss, as well as knock-knock jokes, riddles, and puns—all the wacky routines Yanofsky calls schtick.
Told with candour, insight, and compassion, Bad Animals is not only about autism; it’s about the things that make life worth living.
JOEL YANOFSKY is the author of the essay collection Homo Erectus ... And Other Popular Tales of True Romance, the novel Jacob's Ladder, and the memoir Mordecai & Me: An Appreciation of a Kind. He has written for a variety of publications, including The Village Voice, Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, the National Post, and The Walrus. He is a regular book reviewer for The Montreal Gazette, where he also writes a business column.
“A skeptical, darkly humorous take on autism.” - The Globe and Mail
“If you want a highly readable, informative and, dare say, entertaining telling of what a family, and a marriage especially, goes through when hit with autism spectrum disorders, look no further.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“Joel Yanofsky has taken on just about the hardest of literary tasks, writing about life with an autistic child without succumbing either to sentimentality or bitterness—producing a book that seems both truthful, in its refusal to put too bright a face on a hard reality, and tender, in its insistence on the mysteries of love.” - Adam Gopnik, author of The Table Comes First and Paris to the Moon
Sardonically funny and heartfelt enough to draw tears, an immensely satisfying read for parents of disabled and non-disabled children alike…. A funny, deeply moving and refreshingly honest memoir of raising an autistic child. - Gazette (Montreal)
Writers … show their capacity for greatness when they point their talent at something they love. Joel Yanofsky has done just that: written a marvelous book about a child he adores—his son. - David Gilmour, author of THE FILM CLUB