I worked for a short time at a hardware store. In a small town, you get to know your regular customers — some by name, others just by faces. At that time, there was a family that came in once in a while, a husband/father and a wife/mother with two sons. One son appeared to be a teenager and the other was older, already balding. The younger son stuck with his parents while the elder one went off on his own while they shopped. He’d walk up to a shelf somewhere in the store and fix his eyes on something there and just study it intently for a few minutes. I kept an eye on him because he was acting oddly and I suspected he might shoplift something. But then he’d just turn on his heel and move to another shelf somewhere else in the store and do the same thing. It seemed random. Eventually, his parents would come to the front counter to pay for whatever it was they’d come for and then call out his name and the four of them would leave together.
That young man captured my interest and, whenever the family would return, I’d study him as he’d study things on the shelves. I came to understand that he was most likely autistic, on the spectrum and very much dependent on his family. It led me to do a lot of research into autism in general. I spoke with a number people in various advocacy groups, read up on line, and came to a very stark realization: Almost all of the advocacy and educational efforts out there focus on kids with autism. It made me wonder, when kids grow up (as they have a tendency to do) what becomes of them as autistic adults?
Parents get older and, as my generation is experiencing these days in the natural course of things, pass away. For most, they were the primary support for them. One thing I learned was that autism isn’t something that one grows out of, although one may learn ways to cope and manage things in life. I had the opportunity to interview a couple of adults with the condition, one was very high-functioning and lived a pretty normal life but not without its daily challenges. The other was a young man who was profoundly autistic. Even though, he had developed mechanisms to deal with his road blocks. Still, he was very much dependent on his family for support.
Tomás Stepánek was born in the latter years of the nineteenth century, in a place and at a time when his autism would typically have put him in an institution for life. Instead, God had given him the savant gift of vision and the artistic ability to passionately express it on canvas. His unique abilities opened doors in the elite, artistic social circles of Prague. His life was a roller coaster of soaring heights and abysmal lows. He was unable to understand or express emotions, the work was life to him. That is, until he met a woman who showed him how to unlock his heart in ways that he’d never dreamt of.
Love Me is a deeply human story, following the life of artist Tomás Stepánek from growing up in the Jewish ghetto of Josefov in Prague at the end of the nineteenth century, through his rise to fame and crash into self-destructive depths. The story brings out every excruciating element of his life of autism at a time, and in a culture, that could never understand or accept him.
It’s the story of four of his best-loved works including his one masterpiece which carries, to this day, a deadly curse.
Love Me, The Muse and the Madness, is available now at Amazon.com.
Welcome to the home of Bob’s Awesome Books where you can find the books of author Bob Pierce and read a bit about them, meet the author and even get in touch if you like. Bob’s books are generally filled with fast-moving action and adventure but each story is filled with human interrelations that can be intimate, inspiring and sometimes even heart-breaking. There are winners and there are losers and the good guys aren’t always all that good and the bad guys maybe not so bad and rarely do the stories end as the reader might think they would…or should.
As you read each book you will find yourself relating to each main character as Bob brings out the depth of each one, layer by layer, until you know each one so intimately that you cannot help but become engaged. You will either love or hate each one in ways that will draw upon your emotions and empathy on a level that might just catch you by surprise.
Under the pull-down menu above are all of the available titles from Amazon. Bob is constantly creating and publishing new ones. So far the creative muse has brought him to Ireland, Russia, Africa, the Civil War, Vietnam, and even Michigan. Many are at least partly centered on the North Country of New England where certain recurring characters call home.
So we invite you to explore the world of Bob’s Awesome Books and lose yourself in a story that might just not leave you until you’ve read it again and again.