Friday, May 22, 2009

Karen, Book Review, *The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, *Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in clearly the Night-time, by Mark Haddon, absolutely stunned me. It's about a kid with an unspecified (the author has said in interview that it's Aspergers, but it's not mentioned in the book) autism spectrum disorder. He stumbles across the neighbor's dead dog and decides to solve the mystery of who killed the dog. His investigation unearths all sorts of family secrets that just beg for a resolution. The autistic boy, Christopher, narrates the story, and the narration at times took my breath away.

Amazon reviewers have disputed the authenticity and the treatment of the main character, but I found his naive and sage insights into our world magnetic and precise. Once Christopher explained even the most mundane things to me, I would suddenly become convinced that this was the only reasonable way to talk about it. I especially liked his treatment of white lies.

Though I expected The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time to be a challenging read, what with the main character's autism and all, I actually found it to be one of the easiest reads of my life, if you don't count things like the Baby-Sitters Club.

Normally, I don't like any kind of mystery. It's nearly impossible to satisfy me, because if I guess the ending, I feel bored and like I wasn't challenged, and if I don't guess the ending, I think that the writer did a bad job. I'm impossible to please with most mysteries. Even if the book isn't shelved with other mysteries--if it's just some random piece of literary fiction where you're supposed to be shocked that it turns out everyone's life sucks because some old dude molested somebody and you're supposed to feel all emotional and whatever about it--I'm still not crazy about mysteries. I don't think I'm jaded, I just think that I don't like being manipulated, and that's all mysteries seem to be about, in the end. But that's how good The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was: I didn't guess who killed the dog, and I didn't mind; I was too caught up in enjoying the narrator's voice and in taking the story one page at a time to worry about who killed the dog or to bother with my own ego.

In other words, if you're looking for a book that will take you out of yourself completely, read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.


M. said...

I had a conversation a few years back with a man who told me he was a teacher who specialized in teaching kids with autism spectrum disorders, so I asked him if he'd read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He had, and in his opinion Haddon was dead-on with his characterization. So, I suppose if the expert opinion of someone I only met once means anything, there you go.

moonrat said...

I loved this book. I read it when it first came out, back in 2003, I think, so some of the details are fuzzy, but it's pretty vivid in my mind despite the time that's passed.

Megan said...

Glad you liked it! I read this one a while ago also, but remember being blown away. It's short and light and can be read quickly, but you actually leave with something rather than forgetting it as soon as you put it down.