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Twin by Allen Shawn.. This compassionate and courageous book about losing a twin to a mental institution at the age of eight is a fascinating study of a supremely dysfunctional family comprising at least three creative geniuses. A good memoir is hard to find, but this one's great.

Joel Gardner, LitSnap Editor

"An unsparing but deeply compassionate inquiry into his family's life. It's a book that combines the sympathetic insight of Oliver Sack's Oliver writings with Joan Didion's autobiographical candor and Mary Karr's sense of familial dynamics - a book that leaves the reader with a haunting sense of how relationships between brothers and sisters, and parents and children, can irrevocably bend the arc of an individual's life, how childhood dynamics can shape one's apprehension of the world.."

The New York Times

"Faced with a continually replenishing wave of memoirs, one can feel lost in the deluge. Which titles stand out, when you’ve got nine different memoirs on the same subject? Happily, librarians can recommend Twin to all memoir enthusiasts, and, of course, those who read Shawn’s previous title, Wish I Could Be There (2007), in which he skillfully dissected his phobias and other mental-health issues but left questions in the reader’s mind about his mentally disabled twin sister. Here he delves deeper into his own psyche and what he refers to as “contradictions,” piecing together the role of a sister with autism in his life—a twin, with all of the closeness associated with twins, and yet with a stark separation, as she left their home at age eight, permanently, for a residential treatment facility. Shawn’s moving work brings us closer to understanding a diagnosis that, by its nature, challenges family bonds.."


Author bio: Shawn is the author of a book about twentieth-century Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg titled Arnold Schoenberg's Journey. He is also the author of Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life, which examines his experiences with anxiety and panic disorder, as well as his relationship with his autistic twin sister Mary. Most recently, he has published Twin: A Memoir, also about Mary and his relationship with her. He teaches composition and music history at Bennington College and was formerly married to novelist Jamaica Kincaid, with whom he has a son, Harold, and a daughter, Annie. He is currently married to Yoshiko Sato--a pianist also working at Bennington College--with whom he has a three year old son. More information can be found here:

Book Details: General Nonfiction; 232 pp. Heart and smarts: Kindle/Audiobook/Print editions

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