Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours

Maria Mutch. Simon & Schuster, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4767-0274-2
During the two years her autistic son Gabriel—who was born with Downs Syndrome, later diagnosed with Autism, and does not speak--cycled through repetitive behaviors, refusing to sleep, soiling himself, and becoming a "cyclone" of inarticulate sounds, Canadian poet Mutch experienced a dark night of the soul. She compares the claustrophobia to the four months American explorer Richard Byrd spent in an Antarctic hut in 1934, slowly being poisoned by carbon monoxide. Her reflections on Byrd's expedition, Camus' 1942 essay "The Myth of Sisyphus," Van Gogh's "shattered mind," as well as the rhythmic, improvisational jazz that calms Gabriel transform Mutch's memoir of raising a child with Down Syndrome into a meditation on the effects of silence, isolation, and unusual forms of rescue. Mutch, who now lives with her family in Rhode Island, presents her nighttime vigils as solitary odysseys into the depths of her son's perception of the world. With the exact perception only a parent offers, she suggests that Gabriel is in fact a sorcerer, wizard, and puzzle casting a spell over her. Her wise reading of his motivations and thoughts on the existential meaning of his condition create a compassionate picture of his world. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 03/25/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-307-36338-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4767-0276-6
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-307-36337-4
Hardcover - 978-1-4767-0275-9
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