My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Jul 31

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Category: Opinions

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is one of the better little novels I’ve ever read. It tells the story of Christopher, a fifteen-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum disorder. Christopher likes to walk his neighborhood late at night when the world is quiet and seems empty. He likes the solitude, it’s comforting. One evening he finds something quite disturbing, his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, stabbed to death with a garden-fork. His neighbor finds him holding poor Wellington, so of course, she calls the police. Christopher cannot tell lies, Asperger’s doesn’t allow it, he gets to go home with a stern warning to stay out of trouble. Christopher likes dogs, and murder mysteries, he’s a genius with puzzles, so he decides to investigate Wellington’s murder and write his investigation as a novel for a school project. 

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I couldn’t put it down. Haddon masterfully captures the behaviors of a person with Asperger’s. Christopher thrives on logic and order, he’s brilliant with math and solving puzzles. He’s emotionally detached from people, he doesn’t understand the subtleties of emotions and body language. He doesn’t like talking to most people because they do and say things that he genuinely doesn’t understand, which is frightening to him. He loves the idea of being an astronaut living alone in outer-space, he finds absolute safety in solitude. We learn all of this as Christopher narrates the story of his detective work. It’s fantastic how quickly Haddan inspires empathy for Christopher. Behaviors exhibited by people with an Autism Spectrum disorder are often seen by people as extremely odd or even disruptive. They can’t look you in the eye, they cover their ears and rock back and forward. They scream in public for no apparent reason. Through Christopher we better understand the whys of his behaviors, he’s living in a world in which he simply doesn’t always fit. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time isn’t just about a murdered dog, it’s really so much bigger. The story is so compelling because Christopher pushes himself so far out of his comfort-zone, he does things that terrify him. Ultimately, he discovers far more than who murdered Wellington.


5 Comments so far

  1. Ormolu August 2nd, 2008 12:41 am

    Curiously enough, the book club at my work selected this novel a few months ago. I didn’t pay it much mind because… well, I don’t think my tastes are very similar to my co-workers. *smirk* However, after reading your summary, I’d be more inclined to read the book.

    I don’t know that I’d get to it, but it -sounds- interesting! 🙂

  2. circusmind August 2nd, 2008 11:35 pm

    Thanks! I’ve been considering this book for a while. I’ll give it a go.

  3. Jim August 3rd, 2008 2:07 am

    This seeing-through-the-eyes-of-another reminds me of the movie ‘Strange Days’. With the neural interface, experiencing live recordings of other people. Since I was young I wondered what colors other people saw that they learned to call ‘red’, or ‘pink’, or ‘orange’, versus what I personally visually perceived. It fascinated me, the way our perceptions can be so different with the same stimuli. Which is why I ended up studying Neuroscience.

    I know of many experiments carried out years ago that utilized a number of neural electrical detectors to allow people with paralysis control various devices just by thinking certain ways/things. I’m wondering how much more efficient this might be for you instead of using your switch. Of course, I have no idea of cost or availability. Just an FYI for you. =) Best wishes.

  4. Jez August 21st, 2008 8:40 am

    I just finished reading this book yesterday, and I have to say that I very much enjoyed it. I’ve seen it in the bookstores for years, but never picked it up because the blurb on the back really doesn’t give the story justice. Over the weekend I was at a used bookstore and saw it on a shelf for $1. I remembered your review and decide to give it a shot. I’m glad that I did. It was a quick read and much better than I expected it to be.

  5. Greg April 5th, 2009 4:39 pm

    Hey thanks, I’ve got a nephew with Asperger’s. I had a dream about him the other night. So, now I’ll read the book. And maybe I’ll have another dream. And maybe he’ll read the book. And maybe he’ll have a dream. And maybe we’ll meet in dreamland and it will be easy and happy, but not shallow, no, as deep as the sky… as deep as the sky.