Quoted: Francisco X. Stork in ‘Marcelo in the Real World’

A scene in which the title character (who speaks in the third person) is explaining the way his brain works to another character:

”Cognitive disorder’ is not an accurate description of what happens inside Marcelo’s head. ‘Excessive attempt at cognitive order’ is closer to what actually takes place.’

‘Yeah? I like excessive order myself. Is that an illness?’

‘If it keeps you from functioning in society the way people think a normal person should, then our society calls that an illness.’

‘Well, society is not always right, is it?’

Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork

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s.e. smith is a recalcitrant, grumpy person with disabilities who enjoys riling people up, talking about language, tearing apart poor science reporting, and chasing cats around the house with squeaky mice in hand. Ou personal website can be found at this ain't livin'.

6 thoughts on “Quoted: Francisco X. Stork in ‘Marcelo in the Real World’

  1. I liked this book a lot, but I have wondered how people on the Asperger’s or Autism spectrum feel about it. For a non-AS person, it felt like an accurate, eye-opening look into the life of an AS person. I loved Marcelo. I wanted Marcelo to be my friend.

  2. I also really enjoyed this book, for the most part. (But didn’t want to stick my bias in the post.)

    One thing which I think is important to note for people on the spectrum is that, well, we’re all *really* different. I’m not sure that any single book can be an accurate look at such a diverse grouping of lived experiences, but I will say that the book didn’t necessarily strike a lot of wrong notes for me as a reader (though, again, one person can’t speak to the lived experiences of an entire group simply by virtue of being a member of it).

    Marcelo himself doesn’t even identify as someone on the spectrum, which I think is a notable part of his characterisation. A big part of the story is about his personal exploration of identity and figuring out who he is. One part of it that did make me kind of uncomfortable, though, was the periodic comments about how he’s not like those ‘other’ people with autism and can get by in the ‘real world.’ There’s a lot of prejudice that happens between people with autism and I felt like that was a subtle reinforcement of that.

  3. One thing which I think is important to note for people on the spectrum is that, well, we’re all *really* different. I’m not sure that any single book can be an accurate look at such a diverse grouping of lived experiences,

    I didn’t mean to say that I thought Marcelo was “every” AS person. That would be ridiculous! 🙂 But I did feel like it was a good depiction of *one* AS person.

    Also, I am I guess neuroatypical myself (I’m not sure how this word is applied to non-AS folks, or specifically to people with brain “issues” caused by physical trauma/damage/etc?) – brain tumor has done some weird stuff to my cognitive abilities, personality, etc. I saw myself in some of Marcelo’s symptoms.

    Marcelo himself doesn’t even identify as someone on the spectrum, which I think is a notable part of his characterisation.

    I felt like this came from his dad being a big denialist jerk, insisting that there’s ~nothing wrong~ with his kid and with ~enough hard work~, Marcelo would be just like everyone else’s kid, not like those “other” people with Autism. I guess I didn’t get the sense that Marcelo had not been diagnosed on the AS, but that his father/family rejected the diagnosis because they didn’t want him to be one of “those” kids (like the other students at Marcelo’s school). But maybe I am giving the author too much credit (not to mention readers who may not have any experience in anti-ableist discourse), thinking that ze was building such a subtle circumstance. It’s likely that many readers would come out of the story believing Marcelo was a special AS snowflake, somehow “better” than other AS (or just generally neuroatypical) people. :-/

  4. Oh no, I didn’t think you were saying that at all! I’m sorry that my comment came across that way. I just wanted to qualify my own reading of his character to note that, you know, what rings true to me might not for someone else, and vice versa. I view Marcelo very much as neuroatypical, so it’s neat to get the perspective of someone else who is neuroatypical, but not on the spectrum, on his character.

    And I totes agree about Marcelo’s dad being a huge jerkyface who just wanted his son to be ‘normal’ and thought that the way to do that would be to ignore Marcelo’s reality. My reading was akin to yours and I was also concerned that readers who haven’t really been exposed very much to these concepts might come away from the book with some potentially bad ideas; this in particular: ‘It’s likely that many readers would come out of the story believing Marcelo was a special AS snowflake, somehow “better” than other AS (or just generally neuroatypical) people. :-/’ is right on the money.

  5. I haven’t read the book, but I like this quote. It makes clear that the majority isn’t always right on what is the appropriate way of perceiving the world around you.

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