curious incident

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the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Mark Haddon.   This is an outstanding first novel.   Recommended  

3 smiles:   ratings explained


Reviewed by charlotte Morre in the Guardian.   The numerous reviews I’ve read are full of praise for this novel.

Christopher, 15yrs, is writing a murder mystery novel.   This is Christopher’s Novel.   Christopher’s presentation is a carefully contructed stream of consciousness.   He provides details about each character,   something interesting or different, to describe the character.   What Christopher finds interesting or different does not follow common patterns of describing a person.   The jacket cover descirbes Christopher as being autistic,   this is an artistic construction of the writer,   the contents should not be taken as representative of Autism.  

goodness discovered:

  • Christopher as author:   works exceedingly well to carry the reader through seeing the world through the authors eyes and allowing the reader to have  a privileged view of dramatic irony. As reader we can see the impact of Christophers behaviours and understand these behaviours in a different value-set from Christophers.  
  • Christopher describes and demonstrates  his values.   Clearly,   entertainingly.   Christopher attributes values and priorities to events in a different way than is generally socially acceptable.   I found some of his reasoning clearly descibed,  easy to follow,   consistently applied thoughout the story.   For example the meaning of specific groups of different car colours.  
  • innovative illustrations.   The book is illustrated,   not with ‘pictures’ provided by an illustrator, with pictures from Christophers perspective.   As pictures per-se they provide little extra information.   As choices of important information selected by Christopher they are powerful story enhancers.

not so goodness

  • lack of empathy with other characters.   This is a by-product of working with having Christopher as the protagonist.     There is insufficient detail to build empathy with any other character.   I suspect this was an explicit decision made by the author.   I would have valued the opportunity for a deeper understanding of some of the peripheral characters.   It’s not clear how the author could have achieved this connection within the books clearly implemented perspective.
  • Inconsistency.   I found it difficult to follow why  Christopher made some, plot-critical, decisions  and did not become distressed by events that had already been established as distressing to him. For example, it is established early  in the book  that he does not like people shouting.    Later he witnesses shouting without any documented personal reaction.   As if the author temporarily forgot his protagonist in favour of placing  plot manipulating events.  


  • There are plausible rumours that people who exhibit symptoms of Aspergers syndrome and Autism experience successful application of their strengths in the software industry.   A quick search of the internet finds no real evidence,   just plausible arguments.   Software developers are able to procreate and this ‘syndrome’ is genetically conveyed to offspring.   Evidently,   in December 2000 “Microsoft became the first major US corporation to offer its employees insurance benefits to cover the cost of behavioral training for their autistic children.”    (Wired Magazine).  This could easily just reflect the excellent pro-active healthcare provision by Microsoft as a company.   As a Seattle local,   this Wendy  wonders….
curious incident
rate wendys scribble

2 bits of lovely banter on “curious incident”

  1. Andy writes:

    I have Aspergers syndrome and I loved this book. I am not as severe as Christopher I have been described as “high functioning” (like Bill Gates, Leonardo Davinci, and Newton are all believed to have had or currently are high functioning Aspergers folks), whatever that means, but the book gave excellent insight into how many of us see the world every day. Many of us while we see the world like he does we have learned to live in a nuerotypical world rather well and we don’t have the behavorial and sensory issues he does like seeking small spaces etc. I think it is interesting that you say you weren’t able to build empathy with other characters. This makes perfect sense because empathy is an emotion most of us do not have so it would probably be almost impossible for the author to have sketched characters in words in such a way that you could empathize with them. Not sure about the shouting thing though because that bugs me a lot too. I don’t know how he could have been around someone shouting and been any kind of comfortable.



  2. wendy writes:

    We read this book for our book group. I loved it and felt it gave such an insight of what life is like for some people. Highly recommend it.



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