May 24, 2005

Curiousity Killed the Dog

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Written by an autistic wannabe named Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (1993), is a very remarkable yet unadorned novel which anyone will have the utmost pleasure in reading. Some can even relate to the main character who is an autistic savant.

Roz Kaveney, a reviewer of said this about the book:

Christopher is an intelligent youth who lives in the functional hinterland of autism--every day is an investigation for him because of all the aspects of human life that he does not quite get. When the dog next door is killed with a garden fork, Christopher becomes quietly persistent in his desire to find out what has happened and tugs away at the world around him until a lot of secrets unravel messily.

Haddon makes an intelligent stab at how it feels to, for example, not know how to read the faces of the people around you, to be perpetually spooked by certain colours and certain levels of noise, to hate being touched to the point of violent reaction. Life is difficult for the difficult and prickly Christopher in ways that he only partly understands; this avoids most of the obvious pitfalls of novels about disability because it demands that we respect--perhaps admire--him rather than pity him.

In a nutshell, the book picks up the life of Christopher as he interacts with the environment around him- from food, to family members, to pets, to strangers, to police and to numbers. You become an unwitting companion in his quest to find out who killed the neighbor's dog and he shares with you bit by bit the world and logic he lives in. When I read the book, I felt that Christopher lived in a glass bubble, transparent yet impenetrable, a world governed by his own unique set of rules and norms. He is quite the genius no one thought of and yet if you read this book, you will be soon enlightened that though this boy acts as if he was a retard and a complete unaffecting idiot, he really is intelligent albeit using a different set of logic. He has his reasons (some are partially qualified) as to why he does things and from the book's point of view, you won't feel frustrated or antipathic to the character (unlike if you meet a real autistic child and he caused trouble for no reason at all.) Well, if he was real, I'll make sure he'll be the one impaled on the pitchfork instead of the dog.

The book itself is fascinating to say the least and truthfully, it's unputdownable. You're curious who killed the dog and you're enthralled by the uniqueness of Christopher. You become captivated with how the mind works that even if bodily you are normal, the mind still controls every aspect of your existence. The book itself have several puzzles and "how-things-work" type of entries and reading them is a delight. Makes your mind more open to the inifinite possibilites of the uknown. Anyway, the book is a light read and definitely dedicated to those who have an IQ less than 90... and also to those who are above 90. A definite must-read.

Available at: National Bookstore & Powerbooks

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