The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Vintage Contemporaries, 2003, 226 pages
I generally dislike reviewing books that have seen huge success or are New York Times Bestsellers or award winners or what have you. Anything that could be said of such a book has probably already been said and multiple times. I can’t promise this review will be any different, but I can say that I knew nothing about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time before I read it, other than it was a Big Deal.
Written by Mark Haddon, the novel is told from the perspective of Christopher, a fifteen-year-old with autism. When he finds his neighbor’s dog dead of a gardening tool to the torso, Christopher feels compelled to discover who killed the dog. Interviewing his neighbors, thinking through the events and the facts, and fighting his father all along, Christopher eventually comes to a realization that shakes his world. Now, his mother dead for some years, has found a way back into his life in a way Christopher can hardly believe.
The pace of The Curious Incident makes for an interesting novel. With Christopher’s straight and matter-of-fact narration style, the book reads more like a series of events than a traditional novel. Haddon masterfully weaves in his character’s personality and traits through the narration style, such as Christopher’s decision to number the chapters using only prime numbers. It is this level of detail as Haddon brings his readers into Christopher’s mind that makes this such a success.
Christopher’s reliance on objective detail helps to paint vivid imagery. Sounds, tastes, smells, and textures are shot out, round after round, to give the reader a full picture of Christopher’s world. When anxiety builds for Christopher, it builds for the reader, too. Haddon handles these sensory details so adeptly that they convey more than just the surroundings, but Christopher’s mental and emotional states. This is never truer than when Christopher tries to take a train and encounters the overwhelming aspects of buying a ticket, finding the right train, being on the train, and the volume of people in both trains and stations.
What made this book all the more interesting is that it is set in England. The cultural differences become especially apparent with Christopher as a more objective observer of cultural nuances. As Christopher inhabits a world seemingly designed against his preferences, he asks why over and over, leading the reader to ask whythemselves. Haddon achieves this without appearing overly philosophical or pretentious, which makes The Curious Incident so popular and successful.
For all its high-literary features, The Curious Incident is a very readable book. Its language is simple and offers a variety of topics that will likely reach out to its readers in one way or another. Though perhaps a bit unrealistic, the plot falls through Christopher’s eyes, making the novel a unique journey.
❤❤❤💔 out of ❤❤❤❤❤