Tuesday, July 09, 2013

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

It's taken me ten years to get around to reading Mark Haddon's debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In fact, I wouldn't have read it if my book group wasn't reading it for last night's discussion. Christopher John Francis Boone, the main character, is autistic, and a savant in many ways. He's a fascinating character, and this is actually his story of a search for answers that aren't lies. Christopher can't tolerate lies.

When Christopher finds the neighbor's dog killed with a garden fork, he's determined to find the killer. Despite his fear of strangers, he makes a logical plan to talk to the neighbors and find out what they know. Sherlock Holmes would have done that, and Christopher likes the logic of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Although his father makes him promise to drop the investigation, Christopher can't let go.

And, this is the key to the story. As an autistic boy, the fifteen-year-old can't let go. He can't let go of his fears, but his determination to find answers triumphs fear. And, once he finds the disturbing answer, he can't live with it. He has to make another plan so he can carry on his logical, step-by-step life. If that means finding his way to London, he'll do it one step at a time.

Haddon, who once worked with autistic individuals, has created a character who is brilliant in some ways, and locked in his own world and fears in others. It's easy to see why his parents had such a difficult time coping with his needs. This book didn't work for me as a mystery, although some have called it that. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time really only works as a window into one young man's world. It's fascinating as a view of an autistic young man's life. At the same time, it's a claustrophobic book, one that I found difficult to get through.

Mark Haddon's website is www.markhaddon.com

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Doubleday. 2003. ISBN 0585509456 (hardcover), 226p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Melissa @ My Recent Favorite Books said...

I find your review interesting.
My Son is autistic, and books with this subject are fascinating to me.

Anonymous said...

I too know a few autistic children, and look forward to reading this.

boots9k at wowway dot com

Lesa said...

I'm ten years late reading the book, but I know there are others who didn't read it ten years ago either.

Rosemary said...

I read it some years ago, and absolutely loved it. I thought it was such a good portrayal of an autistic mind, and also very funny in places. I would like to read it again.

Lesa said...

We had a very good book discussion about the book, Rosemary.

Matthew Selwyn said...

I've just re-read this for a book club - it's a really good book for discussion isn't it? - and enjoyed it a great deal. Even ten years or so on from its first publication it still reads as very fresh. I've read a few other stories from the perspective of an autistic character in the mean time but Haddon really writes Christopher as an autistic character as well as anyone I've read.

My review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Lesa said...

It was a very good book for a book discussion, Matthew, you're right. The play is also playing on Broadway, but I don't know if I'd care for it. I know it's been a hit there, though.