lkt'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
May 29, 2007

really liked it
Read in January, 2006

From my review:

"...I wrote a book and that means I can do anything..."

What a sad, strange book. Christopher's stream-of-consciousness narration was unique to say the least (I liked how he jumped around from topic to topic, because organized writing can become quite a bore). While I don't see this as a study on autism, many autistic characteristics are displayed - most notably, the OCD. Can't have one sort of food touching another sort on his plate, can't eat anything yellow or brown, the rigid timetables, counting the cars, etc. Yet he is highly functional IF certain conditions are met:

-no one touches him
-no crowds
-no loud noises
-there is order/if things make sense (he always appreciates order when he discovers it in new places, such as the train stops in intervals of 15 minutes)

There are others, of course. But he's basically highly sensitive to his surroundings and cannot cope when strangers, touching, or unfamiliar situations get in the way of an otherwise peaceful existence consisting of his preferred white noise and solving math equations. His mind can't process emotions correctly; instead, he reacts to negative emotions by screaming and moaning. He doesn't think highly of anyone besides himself and scientists.

Anyway, I found Christopher's dreams about being one of the only persons left on earth to be fascinating. He loves it because he can do anything - he can walk to the sea and it's raining and he can take ice cream from an abandoned shop and he can put on dry clothes at an abandoned house and, etc...(I wonder how many times "and" is used in that book!). He can do whatever he wants and no one bothers him.

Christopher didn't like to imagine things in his head that weren't happening, and the above reference was of course referring to a dream, but when he would imagine himself as an astronaut, isn't that a lie? He could become an astronaut, but he isn't one yet. He would look down on regular people who imagined things that weren't real, and yet he finds no fault with himself for doing this. Just an inconsistency. I can seem him as an astronaut, however, and I think he would make an extraordinary scientist if all environmental conditions were met. It wouldn't be good to have a breakdown in a lab full of dangerous substances.

I was quite angry to find out the truth about his mother, and his reaction was to be expected, I think, although if it had happened to a "normal" person, the repercussions would be longer lasting. How did this not destroy him? He is very fragile and though it's true that he hated his father and couldn't trust him for the rest of the book, it seems to me that he should hate his mother much more. She could have made more of an effort to see him, I think. Two years passed!! Perhaps she could have showed up at his school one day since his dad wouldn't have her at the house.

Overall, a really intriguing book, and I loved the drawings (I used to make drawings of floor plans of my house, neighbors' houses, relatives' houses, and stores to put in my diaries when I was younger. I also made intricate schedules and cried if my schedule would be disrupted, but those are only mild OCD symptoms, nothing near Christopher's --it just made me understand him a little more. I also hated places with lots of people; I would run out and hide in the car after church, for example) and appreciated his math and science explanations..most of it made a lot of sense and was very educational. I'll have to look up more about "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" - those real life mysterious happenings are so interesting to me.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim It's not mentioned in the book, but Christopher seems to have Asperger's, a variant of autism. It's generally marked by high functionality, highly developed skills in math or other subjects, but difficulties with emotional interaction, difficulty processing stimuli ('touchiness'), and OCD. There is some disagreement as to whether Asperger's is a form of autism or something else.

Chris can imagine himself as an astronaut only because he fits what he sees as the definition of astronaut (knowledge of science, ability to undergo isolation). Remember that he gives up the self-image of astronaut when he realizes that he's afraid to travel to London. If he's afraid to go that distance, he can't possibly go into space. I think the point of his dream in which the population of earth has died is that normal is now him.

As for the parents, they weren't perfect. They made me angry, too, but I also felt for them. There are a lot of parents in similar situations who are wonderful, who have my admiration. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of parents who see their children, with or without special needs, as little more than an inconvenience. I'd say the parents in the book fall somewhere in the middle.

Sonia Reppe I don't think you can judge the mom since you're not a mother. Christopher basically rejected her and didn't love her or respect her.

Carolyn Why this book was counted as Asperger's or something else?

Jordan Reed You honestly had some good points, especially of how OCD is possibly dealt in Christopher's life. Also, I personally liked the drawings as well. Although, I am not sure if the astronaut topic would necessarily be a lie. Overall, you pointed out interesting views.

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