I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently, and I’ve just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I only bought this book because I noticed that it had won the Whitbread Prize and there was “buy one get one half-price” deal going on in WHSmiths.
This was an inspired purchase though, because this book is incredible.
The story, not that there’s really much of a plot, centres around a 15 year-old autistic boy called Christopher Boone, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s unable to understand facial expressions and thinks ultra-logically so that whereas he knows what Metaphors are, he thinks of them as “lies” and cannot understand what they mean. He has a brilliant mathematical brain and remembers everything that he sees down to tiny details.
His social interaction is severely affected by his condition, so that he can’t bear to be touched, won’t talk to strangers and is often over-whelmed by his senses so much that he has to kneel down and start groaning to block out all the information that’s flooding his brain.
One evening he finds the dog of one of his neighbours dead with a pitchfork through it. He decides that he wants to find out who killed it and sets out on his own investigations. The story, written in the first person, explains in great detail Christopher’s thought processes as he ponders the dog’s murder. He ends up discovering a bit more than he sets out to, much to his distress and an adventure begins that takes him away from his family home with his father into the unfamiliar territory of London.
There isn’t a very strong storyline to hold all this together, but you’re swept along anyway. Christopher relates everything in a very detached way, such are his thought processes, but you can still feel the exasperation of those that come into contract with him, and the distress of those closest to him.
It’s alternately funny and sad, and has opened my eyes to the plight of those unfortunate enough to either be affected by Asperger’s Syndrome or those that care for a sufferer.
It’s easily my favourite book for a very long time.