Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

This was my latest reading exercise. The goal to read one book a month is going very well. I may not have accomplished any of my other New Years Resolutions, but I'm whizzing along with this one. Of course it helps that this novel was only about 220 pages long. The story about a fifteen year old boy named Christopher who decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog, despite his autism, clips along at a brisk pace. Because Christopher is a bit of a mathematical savant, the chapters are numbered using prime numbers and occasionally the protagonist will go off on a logical or algebraic tangent. But Christopher's investigation leads to an unexpected tangent of its own--one that threatens to upset the carefully planned stability of his own existence.

Haddon, who worked with autistic children as a young man, deftly captures the inner workings of Christopher's mind. I was completely drawn into the story, although I wouldn't say this is one of my favorite books. I initially heard about it from my friend Ari and it would figure he would like it since he's a bit of a math wiz himself. I liked the book but due to the compartmentalized, detached, logical nature of the narrator it lacks the poetry and lyricism and emotional resonance of Angela's Ashes or even The Autograph Man.

Here's an example:

It was 5:54 pm when Father came back into the living room. He said, "What is this?" but he said it very quietly and I didn't realize that he was angry because he wasn't shouting.

He was holding the book in his right hand.

I said, "It's a book I'm writing."

And he said, "Is this true? Did you talk to Mrs. Alexander?" He said this very quietly as well, so I still didn't realize that he was angry.

And I said, "Yes."

Then he said, "Holy fucking Jesus, Christopher. How stupid are you?"

This is what Siobhan says is called a rhetorical question. It has a question mark at the end, but you are not meant to answer it because the person who is asking it already knows the answer. It is difficult to spot a rhetorical question.

The book was also included on a list of 1001 must-read novels. I've read more than sixty (it's hard to know exactly--some of the titles sound like I've read them, but I can't recall what they were about...) of the books on the list and I've got ideas for another dozen or so to add to my reading wishlist. I might also add Haddon's follow-up A Spot of Bother as well...

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting read! I'm reading Adverbs right now :)