Book #2 – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
My library books were interrupted this week by the sudden want to read this book. Eric is using an Autistic POV character in the writing project he’s working on and I remembered this book as having something similar. I think I had dismissed this novel earlier because the use of such a character seemed a little gimmicky to me. Also, I’m not a huge fan of non-genre or “literary” novels. I like what I read to have bigger stories than mundane life. I’m not saying there aren’t good literary novels; I’m not saying that real life doesn’t sometimes reap big stories. I’m just saying that I prefer to avoid angst-ridden (or even joyous) meanderings through some character’s life.
I had decided this time that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a mystery.
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
See, I don’t even care if it’s a big deal in the land of genre. The mystery of a dead dog is still a mystery, and a kid with autism or Asperger’s solving it could be an interesting story. Indeed, the first third of the book, Christopher’s investigation into Wellington’s death, is interesting and entertaining. And then the story has to get *serious*. The rest of the book is a series of telegraphed bad things happening to Christopher. The reader can see these things coming, but of course, the character cannot. It was agonizing and frustrating and honestly not how I like to spend my reading time.
As for the character as an autism spectrum narrator, it works and it doesn’t. Mark Haddon has admitted that he wasn’t exactly shooting for a character with autism and doesn’t know much about autism, which means to me that he just wanted a quirky, ignorant character. I didn’t mind the narration skipping around, but occasionally Christopher’s explanations of his behaviors seemed forced and incredibly self-aware. Everything was described in metaphors and similes and that got old after a while. All in all, I’m glad this book was only 117 pages long.
I’ve been keeping up with A Clash of Kings and my short story/poetry reading. I feel I totally missed something in the story “Fidelity: A Primer” by Michael Blumlein. I didn’t quite see the speculative fiction aspect of it. Didn’t really like the story enough to want to reread it. Novel-wise, I going back to Elmore Leonard’s Gunsights.