The hero of Lake Success is hedge fund manager with an autistic son, a large watch collection, and an upcoming SEC investigation. He decides to chuck everything and go find his decades-old girlfriend (who, supposedly, will drop everything for him, just like his wife will just keep on taking care of his son). He discovers Greyhound buses and an entirely different set of characters from his rich colleagues and their educated, but now unemployed wives.
I could not care less about watches or performance cars, and following the predictable adventures of a man trying to slum it seemed unappealing at first, but the author does great job of exposing the logical, if distasteful, workings of his hero’s brain as he bumbles outside his cushy life, always expecting that his privilege will continue to hold. It’s funny story, really. Also, we need to tax hedge fund managers more. They would totally understand why.
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines is a series of essays about raising an autistic son, which, as the title suggests, includes a touching story about his dialogs with Siri but the essays go much beyond his interaction with machines. There are lovely moments about how he “helps” the doormen in the building, painful interactions with teachers and principals, and interminable efforts to teach him basic life behaviors. And since her son has a twin, there is the constant contrast with his brother, whose interests and concerns are utterly different, but who displays remarkable kindness towards his brother. But the best part of the book is how the author understands, and makes us understand, how her son looks at the world and how his behaviors are completely logical based on his world view.
Shine Shine Shine has many fun and promising ideas but I did not feel that I could become attached to the characters who are too odd to be believable, or to the story, which stayed as wispy as a fantasy. Yes, the idea of building a robot colony to the moon is intriguing; yes, raising an autistic kid is difficult. But too many details don’t work: early childhood best friends don’t marry in this open world; functioning second-time mothers do not wander to the neighbor’s house when it’s time to give birth; and autistic kids are not charmingly and freakishly smart. (And if you are going to live through equations and C code, write correct ones.)