Title: The Emperor, C’est Moi
Author: Hugo Horiot
Number of Pages: 163
I really wanted to like this book. When I heard what it was about (a memoir by an French autistic man who was non-verbal when he was little) I knew I had to get it on my Kindle. Hugo Horiot was a withdrawn, introspective boy who struggled to relate to other people and went into violent rages.
His mom supported him throughout his childhood and tried her best to get through to him (she actually wrote a book about his autism, Le Petit Prince cannibale.) I did like reading about his close relationship with his mom but his writing style was way too pretentious for me. Not pretentious as in I didn’t understand it, I just felt it was irritating. He never seemed to have grown out of his ‘all the peers I had growing up were cretins’ mindset and I partially understood that because he was bullied so much at school, it also got on my nerves.
His early childhood chapters were also frustrating because they were written in present tense but there was no way in hell a child as young as four would have thought patterns this sophisticated. Example: Thus my heart beats to the rhythm of the turning Earth. The Universe spins around as well, thus making infinity, which is probably a question of circles and spheres turning inside each other and so creating the movement of life made of births, deaths, and rebirths. Uh… yeah.
He is supposed to be four years old here. It lacked authenticity and could have been mostly avoided if he wrote it as an adult looking back on his childhood, instead of an artsy attempt at capturing his small child stream-of-consciousness. I could certainly relate to some of his feelings and experiences as a neurodiverse person, but the majority of it just didn’t work for me and his voice as a writer left me cold.