Saturday, May 26, 2018
Books

What's Ron Suskind reading?

Nightstand

Ron Suskind

For Father's Day, we caught up with journalist Suskind, who won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while at the Wall Street Journal. His most recent book is Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism. It is a memoir that details 20 years in Suskind's life as he, his wife Cornelia and eldest son Walt find themselves departing from "the land of normal'' to navigate life with Owen, their second son, who is autistic. The family came to recognize Owen's ability to make connections with the world around him by relating it to Disney's animated movies. The discovery came on Walt's ninth birthday, like a thunderbolt through the kitchen, according to Suskind, 53. Walt had become weepy at the end of the party, not wanting it to end. Owen looked up at his parents and said, "Walter doesn't want to grow up ... like Mowgli or Peter Pan.''

Suskind, who is currently the senior fellow at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is also an alumnus of the Tampa Bay Times. From 1985 to 1987, he was on the metro staff of what was then the St. Petersburg Times.

What's on your nightstand?

I've got a couple books from a favorite writer, Howard Norman. Last year he wrote I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place. It's helpful on writing memoir, and now I'm reading Next Life Might Be Kinder. The book is about someone who died but comes back. It's especially moving for me because I have felt many times that I am in conversation with my father who died years ago. ... (Norman's) specialty is managing that dance between all the layers of reality. ... I also have A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Once Life, Animated came out, so many people would come up to me and tell me to read it. It has a character with autism.

What did you think of it?

There were parts difficult for me to read, but it was so moving.

How did Owen change your perception of Father's Day?

I already was a father, so it didn't change really, but when I think of Owen, he always got excited on Father's Day. He always made me cards. I remember one year, a stressful year for me at work because I was being investigated, actually, by the Bush administration. I was accused of taking classified documents. Owen drew me as Long John Silver from Treasure Planet. I asked him why, and he said, "Because you are like a pirate now, but you have a heart of gold."

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.

Comments
Notable: Books for the beach

Notable: Books for the beach

NotableBooks for the beachSuit up: It’s time for a few new books built for vacation reading.By Invitation Only (William Morrow) by Dorothea Benton Frank is the latest serving of Frank’s trademark warm humor and engaging characters, set around two wed...
Published: 05/25/18
Judy Blundell brings on summertime on Long Island in ‘High Season’

Judy Blundell brings on summertime on Long Island in ‘High Season’

NightstandJudy BlundellSince it’s Memorial Day weekend, we decided to touch base with Judy Blundell, whose new book is High Season. The novel’s protagonist is Ruthie Beamish, director of a small museum who, to make ends meet, rents out her seaside ho...
Published: 05/25/18

Events: Pulitzer winner Jack Davis to discuss ‘The Gulf’ at Oxford Exchange

Book TalkUniversity of Florida historian Jack E. Davis (The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea) will discuss and sign his Pulitzer Prize-winning book at 1 p.m. May 27 at the Oxford Exchange, 420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Admission $5, applicable towar...
Published: 05/25/18
Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

David Sedaris gets right to the point in the opening of the first essay in his new book, Calypso: "Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll ac...
Published: 05/24/18
Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Microdosing is hot. If you haven’t heard — but you probably have, from reports of its use at Silicon Valley workplaces, from Ayelet Waldman’s memoir A Really Good Day, from dozens of news stories — to microdose is to take small amounts of LSD, which ...
Published: 05/24/18
Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Philip Roth, one of the most potent voices in American fiction, died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure in a New York City hospital. He was 85.Mr. Roth was the last man standing of a generation of fiction writers sometimes called "the great wh...
Published: 05/23/18

Events: Tarbell.org founder Wendell Potter to discuss, sign book

Book TalkTarbell.org founder Wendell Potter (Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It) will discuss and sign his book at 4 p.m. May 23 at the St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N.Applications are ...
Published: 05/21/18
The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

Tom Wolfe’s best writing lifted real people into legend: car designers and astronauts and disciples of LSD. With that writing, Wolfe lifted himself into legend as well. The author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Right Stuff and ...
Published: 05/18/18
Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

On a July day, Terry Maitland, one of the most popular men in Flint City, Okla. — high school English teacher, Little League coach, husband and father, recently named the town’s man of the year — attends a teachers convention in a city over an hour’s...
Published: 05/17/18

Events: Gilbert King to discuss ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ at Inkwood in Tampa

Book TalkCutter Wood (Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime) will discuss and sign his nonfiction book about a murder on Anna Maria Island at 6 p.m. May 14 at Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave., Sarasota.The Gulfport Historical Society p...
Updated one month ago