Sunday, July 24, 2011

03: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon
Published: 2003

Personal Story:
I read this novel more or less by accident. I was staying at my aunt’s house for a visit and, in classic fashion, everyone was asleep in the house while I was wide awake. I’d finished the book I’d brought along, and so I went surreptitiously poking around in the bedroom bookcase. Most of what is stored in that room is my uncle’s collection of religious texts, and I was in the mood for a novel. Propped unassumingly on top was a little orange book – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. As a well-established Sherlock Holmes nerd, the title caught my eye and I curled up in bed with it.

The title comes from the Holmes short story "Silver Blaze," though it's often incorrectly attributed to The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Actually, it turned out the book didn’t belong to my aunt and uncle – it belonged to a college student who sometimes stayed with them. Whoops!

This book dragged me in on the first page. Simply written, yet layered with meaning not clear to the narrator himself, it is a beautifully written “mystery” that I couldn’t put down until it was about time for everyone else to get up!

Gist: Christopher Boone knows all the prime numbers to 7,057. He likes dogs, but doesn’t understand the emotional ups and downs of people. He is autistic, a mathematical savant who can’t stand to be touched and sometimes has to escape into a world of white noise to escape the overwhelming information that comes at him in everyday life. When he finds that the neighbor’s dog has been brutally murdered, he determines to take on the case, unknowing that it will change his life forever.

While it’s extremely unlikely that any truly autistic child could sit down and write this novel, this is nevertheless a fascinating look into the special minds of autistic individuals. Told with empathy and understanding, as well as humor, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time helps us to understand that autism makes a person different, but not “stupid” or deserving only of pity. Haddon worked with autistic children in his youth, and his respect and affection for them shines through in this book.


Please forgive the blurry pictures. It's so blasted humid outside that I can't keep my lens from fogging over. -_- We'll pretend I purposefully went for the classic ST:TOS soft focus, yes?

A Bit of Trivia: There is a film adaptation in the works, but this is one of many books I adore but, because of the importance of the narration, I don’t think it could be nearly as effective as a movie.

Perfect For: Ages 15+, younger for more empathetic teens

Don't let Alfred fool you. He's generally much, MUCH too hyper to settle down and read a book. Sigh.

Genres: Fiction, Novel
Keywords: Drama, Mystery

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