Art can change lives – for the artist and the audience – and Rees Finlay’s fantastic new book Reaffirmation: Coming to Terms with an Autism Diagnosis certainly has the power to do both.
Presented as part novella and part graphic novel, Reaffirmation is a memoir detailing comic artist Finlay’s’ experiences in receiving and coming to terms with his autism diagnosis at the age of 26.
Adult diagnoses often lead to confusion, re-evaluation and, understandably, a headful of questions: Where can I find more information? What part has autism played in my life and the events in it? What does it mean for me going forward? It was in a lack of answers to his own questions that led to Finlay to pen his latest work.
It’s no surprise that he struggled to find suitable resources, with the vast majority of the literature concerning children and adolescents. But in Reaffirmation, adults receiving late autism diagnoses in the future will have a funny, informative and reassuring companion as they begin their own journeys.
A preview edition has been made available ahead of a Kickstarter campaign going live on 27th September. A ‘buffet of content’ taken from the beginning, middle and end of the book, it introduces us to the opposing themes of struggle and liberation and to the humorous, self-deprecating style in which Finlay handles them.
He opens his world to the reader; laying down his vulnerabilities and inviting the audience in with honesty and frankness. In one passage he opens up about his anxieties over confrontation, stating that his “historic inability to cope in such situations has led to many bridges burned, many hearts breaking, and many opportunities wasted”, before going on to link these anxieties to his mental health.
As personal and profound as the book is, it’s also very informative and well-researched. Finlay writes with authority; educating the reader with clear and digestible information. In a chapter titled ‘What is Autism?’, he introduces the condition, giving his own experiences to illustrate its impacts, and highlights issues with myths, stereotypes and public perceptions.
And then there’s the stunning artwork. It speaks for itself, really, with comic artist Finlay applying his incredible skills to such a personal, autobiographical work. The illustrations offer a powerful glimpse into his experiences in receiving his diagnosis and dealing with everyday situations.
Reaffirmation has already found many admirers, with comic performer Ian Boldsworth stating, “[Finlay’s] insistence on giving unselfishly of himself and surrendering his walls, rewards us with a rarely seen, brutally honest, self assessment that is life affirming in every way”.
We’re certainly admirers ourselves and will be the first in the queue to make our contribution on the 27th September.
Keep up to date by following Rees Finlay on Twitter.
All images courtesy of Rees Finlay.
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