Books I Read: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: Mystery (sort of...more like literary)
Published: 2003
Content Rating: R for language

Chris Boone is an autistic 15-year-old living with his working class father. When the neighbor's dog is killed, Chris decides to find out who is responsible. In the process, he learns things about his parents he was never supposed to know.

I'm not normally a literary kind of guy (you may recall the literary genre loses points with me),* but I loved this book. I read it in like 5 days which is some kind of record. I loved the mystery, even though the book's not really about who killed the dog. I love the methodical, logical way Chris went about it.

For that matter, I love the methodical, logical way Chris thinks period. He has a near-perfect memory and likes order. If he sees 4 red cars in a row on the way to school, it's a Good Day. He can explain the Monty Hall problem with complex combinatorics and a diagram that's simple to understand. He reasons that if there are aliens, they would be totally different from us and might use something like rainclouds as a spaceship. Almost every other chapter is an exploration into one of these (mostly very interesting) digressions.

And craftwise, this book is genius. It does nothing normal. The chapters are prime numbers. Every few pages has some unimportant diagram (though it's important to Chris).

And not a single description is given of the other characters feelings. Chris doesn't understand tone of voice or body language--he doesn't even look at people's faces. He simply records what people say, word for word. And yet we are given enough context, and the occasional telling gesture, to feel what the other characters are feeling.

As a writer, I'm in awe.

* Then again I loved Life of Pi, so maybe I'm kidding myself?


Matthew MacNish said...

Wow. I had heard good things, but you make this sound like a can't miss. I'll have to check it out.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I've got this on my TBR to study craft as much as to read-for-enjoyment. From what you say, it really illustrates the power of SHOW.

fairyhedgehog said...

I loved this as well. I thought the author really got into the mind of an autistic person. Great book.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Yes, I agree, great book. I read it a long time ago, but I remember finding it fascinating.


jjdebenedictis said...

Well, I'm sold, and I'm also not a literary fiction sorta person.

But I also loved Life of Pi. let's all self-delude together!