Monday, January 28, 2013

Ricky Tsang's Ridiculous: An Autobrainography

Today it's my privilege to review his book and talk with Canadian Ricky Tsang, 
author of Ricidulous: An Autobrainography

Book Review 

(Note: I first met Ricky online when I reviewed his book for, and we've corresponded regularly since)

Ricky Tsang’s book is a journey into a brilliant mind; the reader will find humor (dark/bawdy and/or hilarious), love, tenderness, truth and fantasy within its pages. 

Diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy at age seven, Ricky has witnessed the gradual wasting of his muscles as a result of this cruel, incurable disease. When he lost the use of his hands, he turned to writing (with the aid of his computer) to express himself. This book is a result of several years of posts on his popular blog.

I enjoyed his original and creative style, and because of his humor and sense of the ridiculous, the reader does not read about his life with pity but with interest and respect. Though many of his essays are philosophical or humorous, an occasional mention of incompetent nurses (on whom he must depend for every physical need) illustrates the fragility of his daily existence. He finds daily support from his dedicated family, of whom he writes with great love and admiration. 

He also writes with great tenderness of love, especially romantic love, and criticizes our cultural obsession with beauty; in a series of essays dedicated to women of every nationality and culture, he expounds upon their particular qualities that he finds beautiful and encourages them to celebrate these features, while expressing his great admiration for them. 

This is a touching and intriguing book; no one label can describe this multifaceted look into the genius of Ricky Tsang’s mind. I hope he continues to blog and publish, as his is a most original voice.


Photo taken September 17, 2011 at Chapters in Ajax, Ontario, first book signing for Ridiculous. Ricky sold a record-making 60 copies.

Q & A with Author Ricky Tsang

Where did the idea for the book originate?

When I was young, I always wanted to become a cartoonist, but because of my physical disability, I eventually lost the ability.  I found writing some years later and started off with poetry, only to realize there were too many restrictions in my need for expression.  I started a blog in 2006 with a practice run a couple years prior and because of my growing readership, decided to turn it into a book.

What inspired the title?

One of the reasons I started my blog was because I felt faint all the time, at the time.  I was dizzy every day and thought I was dying.  As I continued to write however, I stopped feeling it.  It was then that I realized what had happened.  I added too much vinegar in my shark fin soup and wasn’t really dying!

The origin story of this book is “Ridiculous”.  Humility drives me to call my ramblings nonsense, while arrogance forces me to claim a little mindfulness.

What kind of physical disability do you have?

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic but not hereditary disease that slowly weakens and deteriorates voluntary muscle strength and mass.  It’s x-linked recessive and inherited from mothers alone, affecting mainly boys and rarely girls.  I was diagnosed after a muscle biopsy at Sick Kids Hospital when I was seven years old.

What genre is your book?

Since it talks about my life and is mainly a journal of thoughts, I call it an “autobrainography”.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“Ridiculous: The Mindful Nonsense of Ricky’s Brain” is a book about everything and who I am, a record of my brain throughout the several years of writing that reveals the strange and perhaps contradicting dichotomy of my person, and includes both fictional (short) and real-life stories, not to mention romance, tragedy, comedy, self-help, philosophies, and much, much more.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took a little over five years, since it was a blog.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Women inspired me.  They’re the epiphany of selflessness and innocence.  I suppose I must have sensed this from a very young age because I’ve always had a fascination towards the female gender.  I write to learn, and perhaps even encourage women to know how beautiful they are for their individual selves.

In my journey of romance, I’ve come to realize that a woman’s intentions are what make her gorgeous.  Understanding her is the greatest journey to undertake.  With this book, I hope to encourage women to know how beautiful they are for their individual selves and defy the perverse misconceptions that society has brought upon us.

How did you feel when you held the first printed copy of the book in your hand?

I never did, actually.  That would be impossible for me.  However, when I saw it for the first time, I felt very accomplished, especially as a self-published writer.  I did everything myself, including the editing and designing.

Your book recently won an award.  Tell us about it.

Back when I first published my book, I submitted it to Readers Favorite for a review.  I was privileged to receive one from author Janet Kay Jensen and was thrilled to get five stars from the amazing writer.  In mid-2012, after some media attention from newspapers and a television station, I entered a contest from the aforementioned, international website.  I won the Honor award soon after for the non-fiction humor category.  I was too excited!

What’s next on the writing agenda?

Right now, I’m working on a genuine autobiography regarding my life with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  It’ll focus on an attitude of gratitude.  I’m also planning on a sequel to “Ridiculous” and a romantic novel.  This time, they will be traditionally published.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In this book, I’ve uniquely written love letters to all races of women.  Why?  This depends on whether you’ve taken the time to recognize the three extensions of a woman’s heart; her eyes, smile, and touch.  Have you ever noticed how the sunlight glows in her radiance, when her lips dance in song to the melodies of the most angelic curves?  If so, then you might understand because her warming gracefulness instils a resonating silence that helps us to remember that the infinite beauties of the universe can neither be corrupted nor destroyed.

Because of my need to redefine all things known to humanity, I envisioned a way to reinvent racial stereotypes and make them funny and endearing.  There are many challenges when it comes to being a woman, and I wanted to take the initiative to encourage even one person to feel good about herself.  When I found the opportunity to include everyone, I went ahead and did my thing.  I always try to be original.

What would you like readers to know about Ricky?

Our bodies are worthless if we don’t have a little character, and people who know me personally would agree that I’m a character, which isn’t necessarily a good thing… for others.  I blame it on sarcasm.  I’ve learned an emotional independence that continues to strengthen my foundations as a person because physical limitations are simply external.  I acknowledge without focusing on them.

It’s funny because while I was blogging, a number of people accused me of playing the sympathy card.  I have a disability and include it in my writings from time to time.  Muscular Dystrophy is a significant part of my life and not something I can get away from.  Then again, I can’t control how others react, and if some of them choose to feel sorry for me, it’s their problem.  I call it “reverse sympathy” because there’s no hope for them either.

I’m glad and I’m sad and I’m mad and I’m bad.  I’m stubborn and ridiculous and my humour is insane.  I’m mysterious and eccentric and annoying and outspoken.  I don’t compromise with anything because I’m not a one-dimensional person.  I’m me.

How can people find Ricky Tsang on the Internet?

As a ridiculous person, I obviously have a ridiculous amount of links, but everything is on my official website:

Thank you, Ricky! 

More Ricky links:

The Toronto Star featured Ricky on its front page;

Here is a YouTube video preview of his book

Author Biography - from

Ricky Tsang came into the world on May 20, 1981, scaring the daylights out of all the pretty nurses when he smiled at them without tears. He’s one of the oldest living individuals with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a “genetic but not hereditary disease” as he likes to say (for fear of sounding contagious), that slowly weakens and deteriorates voluntary muscle strength and mass. He was diagnosed after a muscle biopsy at Sick Kids Hospital when he was seven years old, but only cared about the ice cream his parents had promised.

Born and raised in Hong Kong and eventually becoming a Canadian citizen, this aspiring author, blogger, songwriter, and artist from Ajax, Ontario was wheelchair bound by the age of nine. It was only after losing his ability to draw with his hands that he pursued the literary arts.

As a motorized madman, Ricky isn’t looking to be an inspiration, but instead uses his peculiar sense of humour to find a little ridiculousness in life. He focuses his writing on romance (and comedy) because his lifelong dream is to make every girl throw up. It’s all a part of his evil plan, according to the one who’s writing in third person, of course!

Ricky will continue to write until he finally goes out of print since Duchenne’s is apparently “fatal”, and until then, who knows how many more chicken wings may survive?

Ricky and his mom

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