Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 380
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant is Daniel Tammet’s memoir about his life with Asperger syndrome and savant syndrome. Though Tammet is very matter of fact in detailing his life, his description of the world around him draws in the reader.
Tammet starts his memoir off with his birth, in any other text this would seem like a cliché start, but his unique way of perceiving the world around him makes this introduction personable drawing in the reader.
I was born on January 31, 1979—a Wednesday. I know it was a Wednesday, because the date is blue in my mind and Wednesdays are always blue, like the number 9 or the sound of loud voices arguing.
Even as Tammet explains his condition, something that could have been a boring clinical description, with a description that intriguing.
Scientists call my visual, emotional experience of numbers synesthesia, a rare neurological mixing of the senses, which most commonly results in the ability to see alphabetical letters and/or numbers in color. Mine is an unusual and complex type, through which I see numbers as shapes, colors, textures and motions. The number 1, for example, is a brilliant and bright white, like someone shining a flashlight into my eyes. Five is a clap of thunder or the sound of waves crashing against rocks. Thirty-seven is lumpy like porridge, while 89 reminds me of falling snow.
There is a simple beauty in his description of numbers and how he perceives them.
Tammet leads his reader through the enjoyable aspects of his condition, and the uncomfortable aspects.
A telephone number with the sequence 189 is much more beautiful to me than one with a sequence like 116. This aesthetic dimension to my synesthesia is something that has its ups and downs. If I see a number I experience as particularly beautiful on a shop sign or a car license plate, there's a shiver of excitement and pleasure. On the other hand, if the numbers don't match my experience of them— if, for example, a shop sign's price has "99 pence" in red or green (instead of blue)—then I find that uncomfortable and irritating.
Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet is a pleasant memoir showing the joys and difficulties of being a savant.
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