Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Book Fair was too crowded, so I took a detour to Commercial Press where I could leisurely browse over many books. No surprises at the management book corner, but I got this new book at a discount.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon



This is supposed to be a novel, but the plot is not too complicated. It begins with the main character, Christopher Boone, finding a dog stabbed to death by a garden fork at night in the backyard garden of a neighbour. He played Sherlock Holmes and started to investigate the murder of the dog and went on to discover secrets about his family and experienced an adventure. I shall not tell the ending of the story in case some of you may wish to read this book yourselves.

The value of the book is not the story, but rather the writing style of the author in telling it. Christopher was actually an autistic 15 year old boy who had behavioral problem and attended Special Needs school. He possessed a gift of doing advanced mathematics in his mind, liked red and hated yellow to the extent of eating only red food. He lacked the ability of communicating with other people and lived in a mind of his own. The book was written with Christopher as the first person and he narrated through the book. The readers are actually reading the mind of this autistic child, experiencing how he thought and felt, what his fears were and what calmed him down.

There are some interesting behaviour of Christopher as portrayed by the author. Whenever Christopher came across a difficult word, he would announce the definition of the word openly, which was quite funny in the middle of a conversation. Other people would look at him and wonder why he was stating the obvious. The author skillfully describes how an autistic child reassured himself by repeating known facts and details.

Christopher was unable to distinguish a joke from fact. To him, everything said were taken by face value. As a result, he thought jokes were real and people were really doing such silly things. When he discovered that people did not mean what they said in a joke, he thought they were telling lies. I think the author is trying to use a metaphor to demonstrate the hypocrisy in our daily life, that people said things they didn't mean, or tried to circumvent the true meaning of nasty words. The world is much simpler in the mind of an autistic child.

I recommend this book for leisure reading. It will only take you a short time a day for several days to read it through. Good for reading while commuting. You will be much surprised with the insight into the mind of an autistic child, and how much similarity there are to ourselves.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Lilya. You are probably commenting on the other blog and I therefore copying this there. I have the same feeling as yours. We are also at a loss on many occasions and have to resort to what Christopher did.

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  2. I thought I was commenting on this book... maybe I made a mistake.
    I forgot what I said. Anyway it's good read, the book.

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