Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Curious Incident...

Haddon, Mark, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (London: Red Fox Books, Random House, 2003, 2004)

In short, the book is a triumph in narrative technique, and description of point of view. When an adult writes about children and their thought process, inevitably the adult point-of-view creeps in. In The Curious Incident..., Haddon succeed in maintaining the momentum.

The novel is a story told by 15-year-old Christopher. He is special (The readers can hazard a guess that he has Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome), and he does not know it; he has his quirks, he does not realise it. And, where he stands, the world looks different.

Haddon describes Christopher's world in vivid details (The red cars and the yellow cars). Often, when we describe things, we take a lot of things for granted. But Christopher does not. He describes even the minutest details, and how Haddon presents these details in the book is just extraordinary.

When his neighbour's dog is killed, Christopher decides to investigate the murder and write about it. What we read is Christopher's murder mystery novel. As he moves along, he ends up discovering more things than he could ever imagined possible.

As you read the novel, it's not the plot which becomes important, but how it is told. Scenes and situations which appear so mundane to us, appear to Christopher as unique, for example, his journey to London to find his mother who had left him because she could not handle his quirks anymore.

Haddon does not tell us that Christopher may be Autistic. We learn about it by intuition. And after we do, we do not pity Christopher, but marvel at how much he has achieved.

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