Anthony's Reviews > The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
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's review
Sep 24, 07

liked it
bookshelves: law-school-procrastination
Recommended for: oliver sacks/sherlock holmes fans
Read in September, 2007

One day in June I was joking with my sister, "I should TOTALLY write a story about an autistic detective! He would go around solving mysteries, but then not telling anyone about it because he doesn't relate well to people!" And then I thought for a second, and said "oh wait, I think there's already a book about this."

As someone who likes neurology case histories and detective fiction, this sounded like the book for me. And it was, kinda. A few months after buying it I started to read it while waiting for a plane and basically didn't put it down for more than 30 seconds during the flight. This book definitely grabs you enough to steam through it in about 3 hours.

While it was somewhat fulfilling to read, I did have my reservations, though. For one thing, Haddon does a pretty good job overall at presenting you his story through the eyes of an autist, which is to say the prose isn't the most graceful. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to strike you with it's stiltedness and make you think about how the thought process of your narrator differs from your own. This is an effective technique, but one wonders if it's the best narrative choice for an entire novel. The story actually comes to a rather abrupt finish in the last twenty pages or so, which almost suggests that Haddon himself got tired of generating a story in this voice and wanted to put the book down himself. But of course, that's just speculation.

The narrator's unusual perspective is also indicated by the little tidbits of psychological facts that Haddon peppers the book with - which I found to be hit or miss. At times, they genuinely excited my curiosity. When the narrator describes failing a false belief test as a child, it made me wonder, do autists really remember in vivid detail a test like this so that they can understand how they failed it once they gain the ability to track intentions? It's just surprising enough for me to believe it, although it's unclear whether this is substantiated. But this episode also provides an example of the clumsiness of these insertions, as it comes off a little awkward for the narrator to tell us about his false belief test to begin with. For a book written in an autists voice, a little awkward can be a good thing, and maybe that's why this book just didn't wow me once I put it down three hours later.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Todd Johnson That's pretty much exactly how I feel about the book, only I am not as perceptive of a reader and I never finish anything in three hours.

Shalmali It was fun to read but when I read it again I didn't like it.

message 3: by Bob (last edited Apr 14, 2012 02:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob In answer to your question in your last paragraph Anthony, yes we can. Generally we are very aware of this kind of thing. Although we may never fully understand why we failed we can quickly go back and analyse how we failed so we don't fail it again.

Our biggest problem with these kinds of tests is that we're never happy with or cope well with questions that don't have a correct answer. With these kinds of tests there is almost never a correct answer. Where there is objectivity we have no problems but with subjectivity we have lots of problems

message 4: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob Shalmali wrote: "It was fun to read but when I read it again I didn't like it."

While all books should entertain, this books primary objective is to inform and educate. It's not really a book you should read twice unless you're intending to take notes

Pari Kumar Omg. That is hiarious. Well I bet your book could never beat this one because it is so interesting. LAWLZ. That book made me laugh, cry, think and proceed through life. I just made that sound like a soap opera. JK, it did not make me cry but it made me sad once he found out about Wellington and his mother. I liked that book a lot.

Injygo I remember tests (social situations in general?) I've failed so that I can look back on them and decide what I should have done. Do other people not do that?

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