The Curious Incident of the Dog...

...in the Night-Time - By Mark Haddon

"It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears's house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead" (Haddon 1).
Big image

Synopsis

Christopher is a very intelligent boy who lives in a small town outside of London. He loves mathematics and science, but for him, socializing and other everyday life tasks prove to be a major challenge for him. When the neighbor's dog is killed, everything in Christopher's life changes drastically. He starts trying to investigate the dog's murder, but his father thinks he shouldn't be sticking his nose into other people's business, so Christopher has to do his investigation in secret. However, his father found out that he was still continuing to investigate the case. He got very upset and hid the book that Christopher was writing all the information down in. Later, when he's looking in his father's room for the book, he finds letters from his allegedly deceased mother- that were dated after the date that she was supposed to have died. When he confronts his father about this, he confesses to having killed the neighbor's dog because Christopher's mom cheated on him with the neighbor's husband and they moved to London together.

In fear of his father trying to harm him, Christopher runs away to London on the subway to live with his mother. However, Christopher's mother returns him to his father later, and after a while, he eventually learns to trust his father again.

I found this book to be a very interesting read, and while a very strange book, it was still enjoyable to read. I've read a lot of books, and I can't quite say that I've ever read anything like this! Many people have read this book and liked it, so don't be the only one in your group of friends who hasn't read it!

Read this book- it'll definitely be worth your time!

Here's a review from the New York Times!

...

Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone of Swindon, England, seems, at first glance, an unpromising narrator for a novel -- a curious hybrid of reliable and unreliable. By his own admission he doesn't like fiction. He is incapable of lying, of understanding metaphor or jokes. He's also incapable of reading any but the most basic of human facial expressions. ''Usually people look at you when they're talking to you. I know that they're working out what I'm thinking, but I can't tell what they're thinking. It is like being in a room with a one-way mirror in a spy film.'' His own range of emotional response is so limited he makes the repressed butler in Kazuo Ishiguro's ''Remains of the Day'' -- a novel that this one resembles in its elegant economy of means -- seem like Zorba the Greek.

The book's jacket copy identifies him as an autistic savant, but Christopher tells us all we need to know about his condition without reference to medical terminology -- just as well, since the term ''autism'' encompasses a variety of symptoms and behavioral problems that are still baffling behavioral scientists. The American Psychiatric Association definition includes ''problems with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and a restrictive repertoire of activities and interests.'' The problems of autism are related to how the brain processes, organizes and retrieves information; Christopher compares his own brain to a computer that is easily overloaded by multitasking. He has a photographic memory and is capable of working out complicated factoring problems in his head but is so overwhelmed by unfamiliar visual or verbal stimuli that sometimes he shuts down, holding his hands over his eyes or his ears while he groans or screams. He abhors physical contact, new environments and the colors yellow and brown.

Haddon manages to bring us deep inside Christopher's mind and situates us comfortably within his limited, severely logical point of view, to the extent that we begin to question the common sense and the erratic emotionalism of the normal citizens who surround him, as well as our own intuitions and habits of perception.

Christopher's mind is logical and literal in the extreme; early on he suggests that metaphor is a form of lying, pointing out that very few people actually have skeletons in their closets or apples in their eyes. ''When I try and make a picture of the phrase in my head it just confuses me because imagining an apple in someone's eye doesn't have anything to do with liking someone a lot and it makes you forget what the person was talking about.'' Christopher's inability to tell lies is one of the many reasons he has difficulty engaging in, or understanding, normal social intercourse. And his distaste for falsehood is one reason he doesn't like novels, except for murder mysteries, which are essentially puzzles, Sherlock Holmes being his literary hero -- though he has problems with Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes's creator, who became involved with spiritualism later in life. Christopher's mind is purely scientific.

One of the subtle ironies of the book, given the evolution of the murder mystery detective toward the tough guys of Hammett and Chandler, is that young Christopher is ultimately far more hard-boiled than any gumshoe in previous detective fiction; unlike Sam Spade or Nick Charles, he has no sentimental streak, no underground reservoir of emotional identification with other human beings -- although he is fond of dogs.

When Christopher discovers his neighbor's poodle dead, skewered on a pitchfork, he sets out to solve the mystery and to write a true account of his detective work. In so doing he inadvertently stumbles upon the messy, illogical, emotionally complicated secrets of his parents and their neighbors. And even as he is finally forced to come to some limited accommodation of this knowledge, he makes a kind of plausible case for his own, ostensibly crippled worldview. Perhaps the greatest mystery here is whether Christopher is capable of change -- a question that goes to the heart of certain deeply held convictions about character.

If all this sounds somewhat grim and clinical, it's not. Christopher's skewed perspective and fierce logic make him a superb straight man, if not necessarily a stellar detective. In the course of interrogating one of his neighbors, while waiting impatiently for her to cut the chitchat, he observes: ''Mrs. Alexander was doing what is called chatting, where people say things to each other which aren't questions and answers and aren't connected. . . . I tried to do chatting by saying, 'My age is 15 years and 3 months and 3 days.' '' His inability to interpret basic social cues results in great moments of deadpan comedy, with strangers as well as with his patient, long-suffering father.

MIDWAY through the book, Christopher's quest for the dog's murderer becomes a search for his mother, who his father has told him is dead. His solo journey from Swindon to London is, for him, a terrifying leap into the unknown, as suspenseful and harrowing as anything in Conan Doyle. He literally sees everything around him and is unable to edit the onslaught of sensory data in a new environment. And he is afraid of strangers and ill equipped to ask for their help.

Christopher's book seemingly has a nice tidy ending, as he would have wished -- horrified as he is of indeterminacy. But this tidiness is an illusion, as the gulf between Christopher and his parents, between Christopher and the rest of us, remains immense and mysterious. And that gulf is ultimately the source of this novel's haunting impact. Christopher Boone is an unsolved mystery -- but he is certainly one of the strangest and most convincing characters in recent fiction.


-The New York Times