On February 20 I reviewed Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger’s Love Story. After seeing and enjoying this fascinating movie, I decided to read the autobiography on which it was based. (Can I still call it an autobiography when it was “written” by two people, both Jerry Newport and Mary Newport? Not to mention Johnny Dodd, a writer for People who served as ghostwriter and who is duly credited?) I highly recommend reading this book — after you see the movie. Not surprisingly, the movie had to leave out lots and lots of material, and occasionally had to take artistic license, but it doesn’t actually contradict anything in the book, either in fact or in tone. The major difference is…well, I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, so let’s just say that the Newports’ relationship and Mary’s psyche turn out to be much more complicated than portrayed in the film. Again, no surprises there.
The only real problem with the book is that the first-person point of view changes without warning from section to section. Presumably Dodd interviewed the Newports extensively and fashioned the narrative out of their information with an attempt to capture their separate voices. But apparently he isn’t skilled enough to succeed at this endeavor, since it’s often impossible to tell who’s speaking except from external clues (like mentioning the spouse). Of course this makes me wonder whether he is actually capturing the voice of either Newport; probably what’s coming across is Dodd’s voice.