Friday, January 17, 2014


Because FSM has gotten a teeeensy bit behind in her List Writing, there’s still time to submit your COMPLAINTS of any stripe. They can be funny or sincere or sad or…Please email them to me at

And as a special treat, here is a COMPLAINT from moi-self:

COMPLAINT: Why is autism often used as a casual literary device to signify something one does not want? Then it jumps out at you unexpectedly when you are reading to try to chill out?? And, thus, you are no longer chillaxin’???

Examples from the last few weeks alone:

In Anna Quindlen’s memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, right there on page 119, with no warning: “I remember the profound, almost physical relief sense of relief I felt when I understood that our sons and daughter did not have colic, were not autistic, showed no signs of adolescent mental illness.”

In Claire Messud’s novel, The Woman Upstairs, all nonchalant, about someone with unacknowledged, un-wiped soup on his chin: “Or maybe he’s from outer space or like a person with autism” (p. 120).

In the 11/18/13 New Yorker (yes, I am always 6-8 weeks behind), in Jeffrey Eugenides’ short story, “Find the Bad Guy:” ”You’re old. Your sperm are old. Baby might come out autistic” (p. 74).

SUBCOMPLAINT: It’s used casually to “sell, sell, sell” as well. Yesterday, I saw this on the ad side of my facebook page:

Asperger Experts
Why is it so hard for people with Asperger's to succeed in life? http://www.aspergerexper...

I don’t want to think about that sometimes-true statement while I am using one of my four free minutes a day to ogle my best friend’s new baby pix. Why can’t I just get your simple “Lose weight kwik” and “Ever get that not-so-fresh feeling” ads? ”Learn a New Career”/”Triple Your Income in Three Days”-type solicitations? Or even “Experiencing Erectile Dysfunction?”

Please, world, let us relax, read and ogle in peace. Spare us the gratuitous references. Try to sell us only things we want to foolishly spend our money on to feel happy, fit, rich and virile all the time. And calm!


Full Spectrum Mama


  1. This is exactly how I feel about mothers dying of cancer, which is RAMPANT in books and cinema. I literally had to stop seeing movies for a year or two after my mom died because it is impossible to avoid. And they sneak it in without giving you any warning. Off to see a funny romantic comedy, SURPRISE! The mom dies of cancer. HAHAHAHA! Most egregious example: The Family Stone.

    I also feel this way about orphans/adoption. Finding a children's movie that does not have the hero orphaned is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Now, I know my Joseph Campbell, I understand the hero's journey, but the vast majority of the time it is a cheap, throwaway literary device used unthinkingly by lazy screenwriters who know that we have no other choices than their crap to entertain our children (unless we go all Waldorf).

    If a writer wants to honestly, tenderly deal with the nuanced response to these experiences, I'm ALL FOR IT. Yay for art! Yay for making meaning from life! Yay for the manure fo experience! But gag me if you're just going to callowly exploit deeply painful and traumatic life events to make some cash.

    1. Dearest Elysia,
      Agreed, completely, on both fronts. I've got a few other personally raw ones (car accidents, suicide) that ambush me and the way you separate usage is very helpful. NOT that "they" are necessarily listening because -- I guess --drama sells, right?
      P.S. You write real good ;) Responding to you is always funny for me because you are so articulate there isn't much left to add except: yes.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Oh, PS, install AdBlock on your computer and you'll never see another ad again. Not on Facebook, not on the NY Times, no popups, nothing, anywhere. It's heaven. And FREE.

  3. A reader who cannot comment asked me to post this:
    "those comments are disgusting and hurtful. People need to think a bit. sorry for that - a stab to the heart every time you or others read them."
    Yes, this is my particular stab to the heart; and others have others. When these "stabs" are dropped thoughtlessly or mercenarily, that's when they hurt, for sure!


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