Mark Haddon's first adult novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is one of those books that got passed around so much I eventually lost track and bought another copy. I fell head over heels for the main character and first-person narrator of the book Christopher John Francis Boone when I read this novel.
Publicists hyped the book as one written in the voice of a young man with Asperger syndrome (and, in fact, labeled it as such on the book's cover). While Haddon has stated he did no research on autism spectrum disorders, when reading the book you do notice symptoms that do seem to align with individuals on the spectrum.
Haddon wrote about this topic on his blog, which I find highly interesting:
"curious incident is not a book about asperger’s. it’s a novel whose central character describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’. . . . if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. . . . labels say nothing about a person. they say only how the rest of us categorise that person. good literature is always about peeling labels off. . . . i would much rather spend my time writing more novels, standing up for difference and trying to understand outsiders who see the world in surprising and revealing ways."Despite capitalization errors (which can be forgiven when writing on a personal blog, I suppose), you see in that short passage what an exceptional wordsmith Haddon is.
So instead, a synopsis of the novel (leaving out labels like Asperger's) from Wikipedia:
"Christopher, a fifteen-year-old boy with behavioral problems, lives with his father; he explains that his mother, Judy, died two years ago. He discovers the dead body of Wellington, the neighbor's dog, speared by a garden fork. Mrs Shears, Wellington's owner, calls the police, and Christopher comes under suspicion. When a policeman touches him, he hits the policeman, and is arrested, then released with a caution. He decides to investigate the dog's death, despite his father's orders to stay out of other people's business. However, he is severely limited by his fears and difficulties when interpreting the world around him. Throughout his adventures, Christopher records his experiences in a book: a 'murder mystery novel'. During his investigation, Christopher meets people whom he has never before encountered, even though they live on the same street."Don't be put off by the YA-sounding plot. I assure you the book is excellent and you will immensely enjoy it should you win a copy!
Oh, and by the way -- congratulations to Miranda Furbee and Jenna Valdespino, who won copies of The Bake-Off in last week's "New Reads" giveaway. Your addresses were sent to the publisher, who should be sending you copies soon. Enjoy!
Enter to win a copy of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: