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Books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Monday, 2004 November 8 - 10:43 pm
This is one of those novels you'll want to read all in one sitting.

Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is told from the point of view of Christopher, an autistic 15-year-old boy. It begins with the suspicious death of his neighbor's dog, and it is written as his attempt to chronicle his investigation in the form of a murder mystery.

As I began to read this book, I was almost immediately engrossed in Christopher's mind. Haddon envelopes us with details that add to the illusion of an autistic author, like chapter numbers that are all prime numbers, tangential stories about puzzles and images, and descriptions of unfamiliar emotions written as if we were experiencing them for the first time. The depth of this detail convinced me, within the first few chapters, that this would be a brilliant book.

The story takes some unexpected and interesting twists as Christopher proceeds with his investigation, and bit by bit we see how his life and his parents' relationship has been shaped by his autism.

The ending of the book is touching and emotional, but also a bit muddy. I couldn't tell if this was an intentional attempt to maintain the narrative illusion, or if Haddon himself found difficulty providing closure without using some hackneyed plot device (e.g. the narrator's death).

Overall, Haddon shows clearly that he understands autism, and with this novel, he shares that understanding with the rest of us. It's really an original and inventive work.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: booksreviews

Comments

Comment #1 from Brigette Wilds (Guest)
2005 Jan 21 - 4:46 pm : #
I loved it too. I read it for my book club; it's also the "Raleigh Reads" choice right now. I agree with Ken that you really get a good sense of what it must be like to be autistic. It's well worth the read.

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