Introduction to Talking with the Angel

Hornby, Nick

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler
  • Date of entry: Oct-06-2006


Nick Hornby's introduction to the anthology, Speaking with the Angel begins with an explanation of why he wanted to produce this book of short stories: he humbly compares this rather small project benefiting a school for autistic children to the global ambitions of Bono. He then discusses how his son Danny has achieved so much because of the school, and places this in the larger context of the children with autism who will not be getting this specialized education. As he does so, he describes gently but evocatively the challenges parents face when trying to provide an education for their autistic children. The essay then asks that the reader imagine "a child who slept for maybe five or six hours last night", and Hornby briefly describes how some parents feel trying to look after their autistic child.


In this essay, Hornby explains some of the great difficulties in providing education for children with autism, and the essay deftly moves between larger social obstacles (bureaucracy; the sheer number of problems in the world today) and the day-to-day attrition of everyday hardships. Hornby does not shy away from the anger, depression, frustration and annoyance that can accompany all parenting, let alone of a child whose behaviors can be so challenging. And yet, written in Hornby's friendly, eager style, the essay is a moving and dignified description of his son and the problems they face together. While Danny as an autistic boy remains the central figure of this essay, the essay also alludes to the camaraderie that forms between families with similar challenges, the friendships that be forged from activism, and the human relationships that are paramount: it ends with a lovely description of Danny and his new friend Toby.

Primary Source

Speaking with the Angel


Riverhead Books

Place Published

New York




Nick Hornby

Page Count