The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Last week I finished up Erin’s pick for this year’s 2006 Family Book and CD/DVD exchange. Her selection was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. The mystery is told from the perspective of 15 year old Christopher who has Asperger syndrome. It was such an interesting read with a very unique perspective. I imagine it will even be helpful in going into teaching; understanding the thought process of someone with AS or autism is a difficult thing, Curious Incident provides a small insight.

The story is actually quite a sad one that often uses tragic irony because the reader is more aware of the situation than the narrator is. Nether his mother nor his father are exactly redeemable characters, they are failures in many ways, but continue to love their son in their own, broken way. Christopher’s logic, while often flawed (often because he doesn’t understand the content or context of the premises), is extremely interesting and usually quite consistent. While being a sad story, it is well worth the read and you are left with hope that things will get better for Christopher and his family.

Christopher enjoys math and his chapters are numbered by primes. So using the language of math, he makes this astute observation:

Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.

I can agree with that! In another chapter, Christopher notes a list of some of his behavioral problems:

M. Saying things that other people think are rude (Note 6)

Note 6: People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell old people that they are old and you are not allowed to tell people if they smell funny or if a grown-up has made a fart. And you are not allowed to say “I don’t like you” unless that person has been horrible to you.

I find it very interesting that while he can see his own “behavioral problems,” he has reasons for each of them. It isn’t like he just does things for no reason or to cause problems, he does them because he likes things a certain way.

Check the story out!

  1. April 4th, 2007 at 10:09 | #1

    “2006 Family book and CD/DVD exchange”? Is there a copyright issue or something, like 20th Century Fox?

    This sounds suspiciously like The Sound and the Fury, which I vowed never to touch again, updated for today’s mental illnesses.

  2. April 4th, 2007 at 12:42 | #2

    Do you take issue with libraries too? ;)

    I vaguely remember reading Sound/Fury in middle school… but I could be wrong… going by wiki, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it much. Yeah, it’s Faulkner and all, but I don’t think I could handle the streaming of consciousness style. I have a feeling Curious Incident is strikingly different. Plus you could probably read it in a day or two, I doubt you could say that with Faulkner.

  3. April 4th, 2007 at 14:22 | #3

    Yes, libraries make you give the book back. That annoys me.

    You misunderstand my point. Why isn’t it the 2007 Family Book and CD/DVD exchange? Is it forever the 2006 Family Book and CD/DVD exhcange?

  4. April 4th, 2007 at 14:35 | #4

    thanks for the recommendation. I think I’d enjoy it since I’m acquainted with two people with asberger’s/autism… and even though this is in novel form, I think it might help me open my eyes a bit more to what’s going on.

    and i’ll take a mystery any day.

  5. Nancy
    April 4th, 2007 at 17:37 | #5

    Matt — I read this book a few years ago -think I might have even mentioned it to Erin at one time. I found it very interesting but sad. It was extremely well writtenand I could relate as I have had my share of asberger kids in my classroom over the years.

  6. salmypal
    April 4th, 2007 at 19:53 | #6

    I really enjoyed this book also. It really gives you a feeling of accomplishment…it seems like in a blink you’re already on chapter 17. :)

  7. April 4th, 2007 at 21:56 | #7

    @Kristin: Ohhhh, I just thought you were being snarky (now I get the 20th Century Fox thing… I’m a little slow)! It’s the 2006 because it was mostly in 2006, technically it ended in February.

    @Julia: yeah, I think you will like it. It is a pretty quick read and such an intriguing perspective.

    @Nancy: It was really sad, I didn’t expect it to be like that at all. Makes me sad to think they Christopher didn’t understand all the bad things going on… which I suppose might have been a blessing in some ways.

    @sal: Haha, the joy of primes, eh? I read to chapter 233!

  8. April 7th, 2007 at 07:36 | #8

    I read that book in 2005 and definitely enjoyed it. I’m a software developer and it’s funny how the social tics and quirks of lots of people in software seem to be vaguely similar to Asperger’s. I see that inability to interpret social cues (on a much lower level than Asperger’s, of course) a lot in the super logical, super-geniuses I work with.

  9. April 7th, 2007 at 12:16 | #9

    Heh, I definitely know what you are talking about. Engineers (of various sorts) are not always the most socially adept. I am hoping that the engineers could at least learn certain social graces if they needed to whereas someone with Aspergers may not. Who knows!

  10. September 13th, 2008 at 20:50 | #10

    i am reading this novel for class, and its great!!!1

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