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"Creativity comes from cross-discipline thinking."

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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Graeme Simsion, when asked how he made the transition from international IT consultant to best-selling novelist, says that, "Creativity comes from cross-discipline thinking." Here he is writing in the voice of an autistic protagonist who has no idea that he has Asperger's Syndrome.

Don Tillman had a problem: His close (and only male) friend asked him to deliver a lecture on Asperger’s syndrome because his married friend Gene had a sex date with someone not his wife. He had a conflict because he had scheduled 94 minutes to clean his bathroom. Gene offered to hire a cleaner even though Don declared that all cleaners make mistakes. Gene and his wife Claudia tried to help him with what Don called the “Wife Problem.” As anyone who reads the book can see, he liked to categorize events in his life with upper case descriptions like “The Apricot Ice Cream Disaster,” which essentially was a date gone wrong. Like so many.

Don’s thorough research for the lecture consisted of books and research papers in the field. However, he made his own original theory, “that most of these (symptoms) were simply variations in human brain function that had been inappropriately medicalized because they did not fit social norms –constructed social norms – that reflected the most common human configurations rather than the full range.”

Don apparently does not realize he has Asperger’s, but as the novel continues to outline his “Wife Project,” to find a perfect mate through a carefully designed questionnaire, the reader begins to realize how uniquely creative Don Tillman is, and how painfully socially inept he can be from his clothes to his inappropriate interjections and observations. His lecture is brilliantly so technical that the young lady who is convening the meeting with middle school Asperger’s students and their parents, keeps gently asking him to slow down. He doesn’t and his talk “Genetic Precursors to Autism Spectrum Disorders” gets more and more technical to the dismay of the parents. But not the children, whose responses are intelligent and creative, but are considered disruptive by the adults present.

When his third friend, an elderly neighbor named Daphne enters a nursing home and stopped recognizing him, he proceeded in earnest with designing his Wife Project questionnaire. He was especially ingenious in finding women who were pathetically lonely enough to take the questionnaire, but alas, one wrong answer and the candidate had to be rejected.

Until Rosie, the alleged barmaid, met him at Gene’s suggestion. She fails every category except the BMI and a strange relationship develops around what Don calls “The Father Project.” Rosie, whose mother was a doctor, needs to find her real father, not the personal trainer guy who brought her up. Since problem-solving is Don’s métier, his genetic expertise embarks on a long and tedious search for the elusive one night stand Rosie’s mother had with someone in her medical school graduating class. What evolves in the humanizing of the robotic elements of Don’s character in hilarious, compassionate, and brilliant ways. Rosie is not just the dumb barmaid but a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, and that is just one of the factors that will be uncovered in Don’s obsessive quest to solve the problem of The Rosie Project.

Graeme Simsion, a technology professor at an Australian university, is brilliant in inventing the thought patterns, idiom, and single minded manner of Don Tillman, who is quite at home in an academic environment, but really doesn’t understand how to play the game.

The book had arrived in the mail sent by a friend, and I read it in one sitting. I can’t wait for the movie, which has already been optioned by Sony Pictures and will come to a theatre near you.

Don Tillman had a problem: His close (and only male) friend asked him to deliver a lecture on Asperger’s syndrome because his married friend Gene had a sex date with someone not his wife. He had a conflict because he had scheduled 94 minutes to clean his bathroom. Gene offered to hire a cleaner even though Don declared that all cleaners make mistakes. Gene and his wife Claudia tried to help him with what Don called the “Wife Problem.” As anyone who reads the book can see, he liked to categorize events in his life with upper case descriptions like “The Apricot Ice Cream Disaster,” which essentially was a date gone wrong. Like so many.

Don’s thorough research for the lecture consisted of books and research papers in the field. However, he made his own original theory, “that most of these (symptoms) were simply variations in human brain function that had been inappropriately medicalized because they did not fit social norms –constructed social norms – that reflected the most common human configurations rather than the full range.”

Don apparently does not realize he has Asperger’s, but as the novel continues to outline his “Wife Project,” to find a perfect mate through a carefully designed questionnaire, the reader begins to realize how uniquely creative Don Tillman is, and how painfully socially inept he can be from his clothes to his inappropriate interjections and observations. His lecture is brilliantly so technical that the young lady who is convening the meeting with middle school Asperger’s students and their parents, keeps gently asking him to slow down. He doesn’t and his talk “Genetic Precursors to Autism Spectrum Disorders” gets more and more technical to the dismay of the parents. But not the children, whose responses are intelligent and creative, but are considered disruptive by the adults present.

When his third friend, an elderly neighbor named Daphne enters a nursing home and stopped recognizing him, he proceeded in earnest with designing his Wife Project questionnaire. He was especially ingenious in finding women who were pathetically lonely enough to take the questionnaire, but alas, one wrong answer and the candidate had to be rejected.

Until Rosie, the alleged barmaid, met him at Gene’s suggestion. She fails every category except the BMI and a strange relationship develops around what Don calls “The Father Project.” Rosie, whose mother was a doctor, needs to find her real father, not the personal trainer guy who brought her up. Since problem-solving is Don’s métier, his genetic expertise embarks on a long and tedious search for the elusive one night stand Rosie’s mother had with someone in her medical school graduating class. What evolves in the humanizing of the robotic elements of Don’s character in hilarious, compassionate, and brilliant ways. Rosie is not just the dumb barmaid but a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, and that is just one of the factors that will be uncovered in Don’s obsessive quest to solve the problem of The Rosie Project.

Graeme Simsion, a technology professor at an Australian university, is brilliant in inventing the thought patterns, idiom, and single minded manner of Don Tillman, who is quite at home in an academic environment, but really doesn’t understand how to play the game.

The book had arrived in the mail sent by a friend, and I read it in one sitting. I can’t wait for the movie, which has already been optioned by Sony Pictures and will come to a theatre near you.