Haddon, Mark – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Although marketed as a children’s book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is also suitable for adults.  I found it unputdownable and read it in one sitting in the bath one night.  Well I couldn’t put it down, as it may have become wet!  But anyway, enough of my poor jokes, what about the book?  It features 15-year old Christopher Boone, a child with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.  It isn’t made clear in the book – perhaps a device by the author to demonstrate that people should not be pigeon-holed?  The story starts with Christopher discovering Wellington, the dog of his neighbour, Mrs Shears, killed with a garden fork on her front lawn.  In attempting to solve the crime, we see Christopher embark on a journey which as some very interesting and to him, shocking, results.

Haddon’s portrayal of a child with Autism / AS is sympathetic.  Of course it’s not perfect as many who know better than me have no doubt testified, but it certainly made me think about why certain things – e.g. the dislike of yellow and brown – might be disturbing to someone with such a condition.  It is often said that we all of us are somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum with our own idiosyncrasies – it’s only a matter of degree.  This book does nor portray itself as a text book on either condition, it is a work of fiction, so can be used as a device to spark discussion and to bring such issues to popular attention.  The bottom line is that the story of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is an enjoyable story.

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