Word count: let’s not and say we did
I stopped by a bookstore on my way home tonight to look for The Einstein Syndrome by Thomas Sowell. I’d been doing research about another childhood psychological problem with which I’d callously afflicted one of my novel’s main characters when I surfed into Sowell’s book. I’d read one of his books before - The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy - so I was intrigued to see him writing on such an unrelated topic. Like the other book I bought, Gifts Differing, it was something I would have borrowed if the Boston Public Library hadn’t managed to “lose” all its circulating copies of both books. I could have bought a whole shelf at Buck-a-Book for what those two books cost, but they’re not the sort of book that gets remaindered.
I had to work to get the book, too. I found it listed in the kiosk computer catalog as being in stock in the bookstore, but there was no shelf that fit the location given (Psychology - Family - Child Psychology). I asked one of the staff - let’s call her Retail Girl - and she went back to the staff kiosk and asked another of the staff (Retail Guy). I followed a little behind, but I was just in time to hear Retail Guy tell Retail Girl that the section was upstairs. She, however, wanted to look it up for me in her special staff kiosk computer catalog, and her computer said it wasn’t in stock.
When it comes to a choice between what I retrieved from a computer and what some random Retail Girl retrieved from a computer, I trust myself. It may sound snobbish, but considering that I was writing Basic before Retail Girl was writing English and that I had noticed the not-yet-published paperback version of the book listed under an entirely different section (Family and Education - Child Psychology), I decided to give Retail Guy’s directions a shot. So I went away in apparent despair, but turned at the escalator and checked out the second floor. There was indeed a Family - Child Psychology section there, and fortunately I knew to look around the autism books. Presto! So I got to blow $25 on the book despite the best efforts of Retail Girl to help me.
But I digress. Einstein syndrome refers to smart children who start talking significantly later than other toddlers, to the point where some can even read before they can talk. Sometimes they’re misdiagnosed with autism or attention deficit disorder. (It sounds to me like it’s related to Asperger’s Syndrome.) Sowell had a son with the Einstein syndrome; he wrote an earlier book about his son and others like him (Late-Talking Children) which was criticized for being anecdotal. This work is his scientific evidence.
I love comparative genetics and weird cognitive science; if I could only work more of that into the novel I wouldn’t be 5,000 words behind.