The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark
Haddon, is one of the best books I've read all year. And god-damn it,
I'm reading five books a week, so that should mean something.
Fifteen year-old Christopher Boone is a high-functioning autistic kid.
He likes planes, rockets, Sherlock Holmes. Red is good. Yellow and
brown are bad. He'd like to be an astronaut when he grows up.
One night he finds his neighbor's poodle, Wellington, dead. Wellington
has been murdered with a garden fork. Christopher decides to
investigate Wellington's murder (inspired by Sherlock Holmes), and
writes a book about his detective efforts. The result is
Curious - charming and insightful. Christopher is a kind of
autistic Adrian Mole. His narrative is a wonderful exposition of the
autistic mind and of Christopher's wonderful individualities. It's
also full of contradictions; Christopher is constantly testing his
limits. He's emotionally disassociated, but there's a big emotional
payoff at the end; he hates talking to people and doing new things,
but he forces himself to talk to the neighbours in the name of
detecting; he doesn't know how to tell jokes, and claims 'this will not
be a funny book' – that was a lie! Christopher's narrative is funny,
fascinating, and poignant.
ps - this book has been very successful. The paperback is on the NY Times best-seller list this week.
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