The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – by Mark Haddon

Modern First Editions  A - L : Gale - Hyland : The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time A murder mystery….

Christopher, a 15 year old autistic boy as the detective and dog as a victim of murder !

Does that sound promising as a novel!!??. Not to me, it didn’t. Even Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, tells him that “readers care more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in the book readers would want to carry on reading.” But Christopher wants to write about something real, he can’t lie and he cares about the dogs…and so he goes on to write about his investigations into the death of a dog.

Guess what, Siobhan, you were mistaken!!! Readers would definitely go on reading this mystery novel, only to discover that even though the dog is the only one murdered, it is not the only victim……. the murder is not the only mystery. As he gets closer to the truth, Christopher begins to investigate certain personal mysteries and the reader finds not just an answer to the initial mystery of the dead dog but also a new understanding of life with autism

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”

The entire novel is an account by narrator Christopher Boone of how his world is turned topsy tury by chaos . The “murder mystery” is “solved” halfway through the novel. But rather than restoring order, such events unfold that threaten his carefully maintained world. his quest to solve the problem is as adventurous and dangerous

Chrisopher suffers from autistic spectrum disorder called Asperger’s synrdrome which is a neurobiological disorder. He’s a mathematical genius and a whiz at science But human emotions are particularly complex for him. He hates being touched, even by his parents. He hates the colours brown and yellow, and if one foodstuff touchs another while it is on his plate, he canot eat it. He needs to have the world just-so…. or he will scream, hit, or moan for hours. He is at a school for “special needs”. This means he is taunted regularly by his peers, misunderstood by copious adults, and is mostly reliant on his friendship with Siobhan, the teacher who is guiding him through the writing of this autobiography.

 ‘All the children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call then stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because evenerone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and also everyone has special needs, like Father who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs Peters who wears a beige-coloured hearing aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs

It is easy to feel sympathy and compassion for Christopher and we feel disappointed when those close to him fail to take his own needs into account, even when they are trying to help him.   For Christopher, the desire for order and stabilitis actually a necessity of living. He needs an ordered and stable life to be happy and safe. Come to think of it, don’t we all??? We, just like Christopher, would dislike being lied to on such a scale as he is here. Many of us would switch off, or like to, when faced with trauma. We often are in a position to not see what is staring at us in the face ~ or on the faces of others

And as we peep into the life of his parents through his eyes, we cannot but empathise with them. . Christopher was loved by his parents but life isn’t easy, money not plentiful, opportunities limited. The relationship of the parents with their child and what it does to their relationship is a fascinating subject and I think Haddon has handled it well. I felt the anguish of the parents trying to deal with a boy who doesn’t want to be touched or hugged even when in a distressed stateI can relate to the difficulties Christopher´s mother has with him and admire the way his father deals with the situation. Refreshing, enlightening and ultimatelyheart warming book. This book is beautifully and thoughfully presented too. You will also find diagrams, drawings, letters and mathematical problems amongst the text. Small diagrams are used to better explain some of Christophers theories on life, the universe and everything, and these again are a simply yet clever way of keeping the book flowing.  You will probably learn a lot too, as I did. I now know much more about Science, logic, Sherlock Holmes and nature.

Christopher must learn to work with and work through his abilities and disabilities in order to accomplish the goals he sets for himself. He picks his way through, using a logical reasoning. He gets through truth and lies, fact and fiction, relationships with his parents and relationships with the outside world

This book is neither a murder mystery nor a book about aspergers. It’s a story about people, with a different perspective, Christophers’ investigations will cast some light on their world and on yours, perhaps.People in this book are very real and human, to me coping with the world and all its stresses and trials. Full of faults and limited like all of us.  As Mark Haddon said in an interview I found on the Guardian website.

It’s about how badly we communicate with one another. It’s about accepting that every life is narrow and that our only escape from this is not to run away (to another country, another relationship, a slimmer, more confident self) but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves.’

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7 Responses to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – by Mark Haddon

  1. ushnish says:

    Dear Amrita
    How are you ? I just came here after a long time…and saw I missed many posts. and realized why I never receive your posting notification , now I have registered at your web site.
    I enjoyed reading this one..and liked the Crochet work…
    Have a nice weekend…getting bored in Milano
    ushnish

    • Amrita says:

      Thanks a lot for dropping by. Wish you luck for your Milano assignment, but you are seriously being missed on the blogosphere.!!!

      I sure am glad that you found my blog interesting enough…
      Thanks for the encouragement and appreciation 😀 😀 😀

  2. sangeeta says:

    Hey i am late to see this wonderful review and it is an eye opener for sure…

    (I like your detailed write up first of all )

    The subject of ‘special needs ‘ is so beautifully dealt with and i can well understand the challenges faced by the parents…….i had read somewhere that the the parents need to concentrate on saving their marriage as well , it is really difficult to work as a balanced force together when dealing with such a challenging situation with your kid with ‘special needs’ !!!!

    As you say it is a story of people with a different perspective ( not necessarily a physical disorder ) , this looks like a must read book for me……….being different and having your own different perspective is so difficult n painful sometimes !!

    • Amrita says:

      I am sure you will like the book, Sangeeta. Looking at life from a different perspective enables us to realise that our circumstances can be different, yet life per se is essentially the same for everyone.

      We all carry our own personal Cross which was handed down to us by our circumstance. At the same time, we are also struggling with our individual weaknesses ..(physical, mental, social and psychological)…which put a limit to our ability to bear the cross

      A lucky few, like the boy and his father in this novel, manage to overcome this. The mother is overwhelmed by the situation and still we find that we cannot help but sympathise with her…because she DID try her best…only trouble was that her best was not good enough.

  3. sangeeta says:

    so true about the cross n how we decide to bear it…..

  4. sudhagee says:

    I read Mark Haddon’s “The Red House” and like it a lot. And since then have been wanting to read this one. And your review has only made me go ahead and flipkart it ! Thank you 🙂

    • Amrita says:

      Thanks Sudhagee for appreciating this review 🙂 I am sure you will like this book too. And what a coincidence that you are planning to read this book now when the topic for the Sunday Book Club is going to be Sherlock Holmes this week. I would like to tell you that the title of this book is actually inspired from one of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Stories- Silver Blaze from The memoirs of Sherlock Homes. You might wish to check this out
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Blaze

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