Curious incident of the dog in the night time – Read it!!

Two books I read recently which were very different from the usual stuff - Life of Pi and Curious incident….. Thanks Venu, for recommending ‘Curious incident’ it was well worth a read and more.

The author is a chap called Mark Haddon who wrote children’s books and decided to get into the mind of one, but this time an Autistic child. It must have been a daunting & painstaking idea because from the efforts, one can easily make out that he eventually learnt precisely how to go about it. It must have been a really huge effort, because not only did he get into Christopher’s mind, he also created an engrossing whodunit.

Chris sees a murdered dog and decides to find out who did it; he also decides to write about it and well, that is the complex route you take with Chris once you get the book in your hands. Sometimes you even wonder, Is Aspergers a boon? Anyway as he progresses, he is drawn into the complex non-Asperger world…and this bewildered boy’s, orderly and mathematically assisted quest becomes the engrossing tale!

Most of you would be thinking, aha! This must be like Hardy boys or Enid Blyton or such teenage detectives. Not at all, and here is where the beauty of the whole story lies!!

Chris starts the book thus “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them”.Christopher loves mathematics and uses it to structure his daily life. How he explains some basic concepts are brilliant. The way he explains Monty’s problem and various aspects of using logic as a method.. Wow!!! Fantastico!

Autism vs Aspergers syndrome- Apparently Aspergers is a mild cousin of Autism, so what is Aspergers? An extract from Wired: Tony Attwood describes Asperger’s children as them who lack basic social and motor skills, seem unable to decode body language and sense the feelings of others, avoid eye contact, and frequently launch into monologues about narrowly defined - and often highly technical - interests. Even when very young, these children become obsessed with order, arranging their toys in a regimented fashion on the floor and flying into tantrums when their routines are disturbed. As teenagers, they're prone to getting into trouble with teachers and other figures of authority, partly because the subtle cues that define societal hierarchies are invisible to them. In the taxonomy of autism, those with Asperger's syndrome have average - or even very high - IQs, while 70 percent of those with other autistic disorders suffer from mild to severe mental retardation.

Look at Christopher, our book’s protagonist; he tells you “People should not tell lies”. That is his core belief and when somebody tells him one, it drives him to do things that he himself could not have imagined. Also, I loved the way he went about explaining Conan Doyle’s writing methods with Sherlock Holmes books…and the concept of Red herrings in a story. While he admires Holmes, he disliked Doyle for a reason!

Siobhan tries to teach Chirs 'rhetoric'. It goes thus - Siobahn says it is called a rhetorical question. It has a question mark at the end, but you are not meant to answer it because the person answering it already knows the answer. It is difficult to spot a rhetorical question.

Haddon said this in an interview
One of the things I like about the book, if I'm allowed to say that about my own book, is something I realized quite early on: It has a very simple surface, but there are layers of irony and paradox all the way through it. Here is a fiction about a character who says he can only tell the truth, he can't tell lies — but he gets everything wrong. Here is a narrator who seems to be hugely ill-equipped for writing a book — he can't understand metaphor, he can't understand other people's emotions, he misses the bigger picture — and yet it makes him incredibly well suited to narrating a book. He never explains too much. He never tries to persuade the reader to feel about things this way or that way; he just kind of paints this picture and says, "Make of it what you will." Which is a kind of writing that many writers are searching for all the time.
Also — and this has become something very important to me — it's not just a book about disability. Obviously, on some level it is, but on another level, and this is a level that I think only perhaps adults will get, it's a book about books, about what you can do with words and what it means to communicate with someone in a book. Here's a character whom if you met him in real life you'd never, ever get inside his head. Yet something magical happens when you write a novel about him. You slip inside his head, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world……….
People have said to me that it's a desperately sad book and they wept most of the way through it. Other people say it's charming and they kept laughing all the time. People say it has a sad ending; people say it has a happy ending. Because Christopher doesn't force the reader to think one thing and another, I get many different reactions.

Ah! Mark – Yo the man…as they say in the US. What a book! Thankfully I purchased it, so it is now part of my library!

P.S Mark had also this to say - The best question I ever received came from a boy who asked whether I did much crossing out. I explained that most of my work consisted of crossing out and that crossing out was the secret of all good writing


Reshmi said…

pls take up the picture tag that i have done..would love to see it from ur perspective..:)

Anonymous said…
yup will a day or two..

maddy said…
yes, i did take up the picture tag..

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