20 November, 2007

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

Published in 2003, this book received very positive reviews from many sources, as well as the Whitbread Book of the Year (which disturbingly is now the Costa Book Award, as in the British coffee chain). It is principally an interior monologue of a 15-year-old boy with Aspergers Syndrome, Christopher Boone. The power of the book is in the factual way Christopher relates all of his story: from his genius level understanding of mathematics, his determination to solve the 'curious incident' of the title, and most strikingly the disintegration of his parents' relationship.

Conventionally society regards people with a mental disability as hindered in pursuing an ephemerally 'normal' life. Here however, entirely without preaching or didactic effort to educate, the people who aren't succeeding are the able-minded and able-bodied adults that Christopher encounters. In their version of the world everything is confused by emotions and expectations. In Christopher's as long as the different foods on his plate don't touch and he can avoid brown and yellow then life can progress quite adequately.

There are several provoking observations, which form the substance of the novel, rather than an intriguing story. I was most taken with the following digression on the notion of time:

"Because time is not like space. And when you put something down somewhere...you can have a map in your head to tell you where you have left it...And a timetable is a map of time, except that if you don't have a timetable time is not there...Because time is only the relationship between the way different thing change...and it isn't a fixed relationship."


  1. I LOVED this book, it did make me weep so. And it made me very worried as I identified more with the Asperger's main character than I have with a narrator in a long long time.

  2. I had a similar quandary of feeling pleasantly connected to Chris' outlook, or concerned as to what it meant about my own synaptic processes. It was just good to experience an almost entirely subconscious narrative - things in one's head always sound better than when they come out audibly.