Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Fiction Reflects the Human Mind

This post isn't related to Asperger's Syndrome per se, but I think people with AS are more likely to identify with it.

Children's fiction is imaginative. The sky's the limit. Dinosaurs talk. Kids have super powers or can cast spells. Monsters are friends with children. And so forth. The scope of fiction narrows as you head into the intermediate and young adult section of bookstores and libraries. You won't see talking dinosaurs or friendly monsters, but a lot of imagination is still there, even in popular fiction. Harry Potter, need I say more? I actually really enjoy teen fiction. Even when a large focus of the story is centered on "high school drama," I've found that characters often have unique voices. Additionally, lots of teen fiction deals with issues such as challenging authority and "coming out of the closet." Sometimes these themes are presented in unique ways, such as in The Hunger Games.

Now walk into the adult section. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough or in the right places, but imagination seems mostly gone. So much adult fiction seems to be midlife drama, and very little of it has any kind of unique twist. As I stated, even "high school drama" books have a level of creativity. But seriously, it is so difficult to find an adult book that isn't about some woman having a mid-life crisis, or a man having an affair, or a woman feeling like dirt because she can't pop a baby out. Even in books advertised with unique storylines, these storylines take a backseat to mid-life drama. I am almost finished reading Mercy by Jodi Picoult. The book is allegedly about a mercy killing. However, the majority of it is about a man having an affair with another woman. False advertising! About 3/4 of this book would have to be cut if it were to be entirely about a mercy killing. If I read one more time about how Cam "pulls out of Mia at the last minute," and "spills," I'll mercy kill myself!

For this reason, I stick to YA fiction and the adult books I read are largely non-fiction.

To me, this progression of children's fiction to adult fiction represents the evolution of the neurotypical human mind. Children are largely imaginative. In the teenage years, some imagination is lost in favor of romantic relationships, but relationships are only one part of life. In adults, it's all about marriage and procreating. I know I'm making a generalization here, but that's how it seems, and fiction seems to represent this. We Aspies get tired of everything being about romance. We want books that make us think and that have a unique story from a unique perspective. Alas, publishers obviously realize that unless a story has at least a subplot with a romance in it, it won't sell. Adult fiction often has to be Adult fiction to sell.


  1. I think that is one reason I lean towards the fantasy and science fiction genres - authors such as Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Larry Niven. The romantic element is kept to a minimum, the characters show normal human foibles and the settings, while grounded in reality, are one step removed. The "fantasy" elements in what I consider to be good fantasy are imaginative, have enough logical consistency to be believable and are often aspirational in a "what if...?" kind of way. It's been described as "holding a mirror up to reality" and I can see why - things are different yet recognizable.

  2. Hi!First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your courage to create a blog like this, talking on your every day life, living with asperger's syndrome. I believe that your effort will help many people who confront the same problem, like yours. My name is Yiota and I work as a clinical psychologist at a NGO in Greece, concerning mental health. Working with people who have asperger's syndrome, I am interested in starting a blog here in Greece, where people who suffer from asperger's syndrome could share their thoughts and feelings. There isn't something alike this in Greece and I believe that it would be very interesting and helpful for people with asperger's syndrome. I was wondering if I could use some of your posts, translated to Greek, as a prologue to our blog. Your help would be really imprortant for me and could be the beggining of a beautiful effort made for people with asperger's syndrome. Thank you very much in advance. Iam waiting for your news.

  3. Thank you for your comment. First, I would like to emphasize that people don't necessarily "suffer" from Asperger's Syndrome any more than do people "suffer" from homosexuality. It is an anomaly, not an illness, and any suffering very often comes from people who don't understand and don't even want to understand. These days I am pretty well-adjusted, but certainly as a kid it was tough for me.

    Yes, you can translate my blog entries if you want, as long as you provide a link back here to my original blog.

    When you end up doing this, please let me know. Thanks.


  4. thank you very much for your help- I let you know when I will have some news on it. Of course, I will provide a link to your original blog, I assure you for that.
    Thank you again,

  5. Although it's not much, I thought I'd throw in my two cents. I'm a fiction writer who's written a comic novel about a fifty-something writer living with Asperger's Syndrome. The novel's called "Gollyweister" and is available through and other online retailers. It's definitely not your typical story; and since this post bemoans the lack of interesting fiction out there, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to shamelessly plug my delightfully quirky novel. Thanks.