My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Rosie Project is about a professor of genetics who unknown to himself has Aspergers’ who looks to find a wife for himself – completely logically, devoid of those inexplicable things other people call emotions. It was a book that Bill Gates’ wife suggested he read because he would find a lot of himself in the main character. And then Bill Gates suggested it in his blog and I picked it up.
The book is fairly simple, following the same trope of every romcom ever. Guy meets girl. Guy likes girl. Girl likes guy. But they can’t bring themselves to say it. One of them screws up and they drift apart. Enter the third person. Seeing the third person with their true-love forces one of the couple to deal with their emotions. They make a grand gesture of proving their love. Happily ever after. This book is no different.
The book is fairly humorous in that we get to see what life is like to a person who does not pick up on social cues but is good of heart. The worse and best part about the book, for me, was that I saw a lot of thoughts and actions being far too common between the protagonist and me.
But I also fail to see why heightened sensitivity to obscure cues about ice-cream flavors should be a prerequisite for being someone’s partner.
The taxi driver coughed artificially. I presumed he wasn’t asking for a beer. “You want to come up?” said Rosie. I was feeling overwhelmed. Meeting Bianca, dancing, rejection by Bianca, social overload, discussion of personal matters—now, just when I thought the ordeal was over, Rosie seemed to be proposing more conversation. I was not sure I could cope. “It’s extremely late,” I said. I was sure this was a socially acceptable way of saying that I wanted to go home. “The taxi fares go down again in the morning.” If I understood correctly, I was now definitely far out of my depth. I needed to be sure that I wasn’t misinterpreting her. “Are you suggesting I stay the night?” “Maybe. First you have to listen to the story of my life.” Warning! Danger, Will Robinson. Unidentified alien approaching! I could feel myself slipping into the emotional abyss. I managed to stay calm enough to respond. “Unfortunately I have a number of activities scheduled for the morning.” Routine, normality. Rosie opened the taxi door. I willed her to go. But she had more to say. “Don, can I ask you something?” “One question.” “Do you find me attractive?” Gene told me the next day that I got it wrong. But he was not in a taxi, after an evening of total sensory overload, with the most beautiful woman in the world. I believed I did well. I detected the trick question. I wanted Rosie to like me, and I remembered her passionate statement about men treating women as objects. She was testing to see if I saw her as an object or as a person. Obviously the correct answer was the latter. “I haven’t really noticed,” I told the most beautiful woman in the world.
I did not use the services of brothels, not for any moral reason, but because I found the idea distasteful. This was not a rational reason, but since the benefits I was seeking were only primitive, a primitive reason was sufficient.