Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I've been trying to think of something intelligent to say about it. I hadn't heard about it at all before, so I enjoyed reading something completely new to me. While reading I discovered that it is on the list of the National Endowment for the Art's top 100 books. I don't agree with all of their choices (I hate Catcher In The Rye - anyone else?) but figured it was worth checking out.

The first thing I noticed in this book was that the chapters were prime numbers. The main character and narrator, Christopher, has some version of autism and is very good with numbers. I am not. (I was pleased to recognize the prime numbers before he explained them!) I did my best to follow his explanations of mathematical and logical problems, but I admit to skipping over some of the paragraphs involving formulas, quadratic equations, or similar. I don't know the value of N, I never will, and it makes my brain hurt to think about it. (Sarah admits to being a "math geek" - her words not mine. I wonder if she could figure them out?)

I found Christopher's narrative to be very interesting and quite funny at times. His description of "special needs" was great; by Christopher's definition we all have special needs. I liked the way he justified his actions, explaining why he did something or didn't like a certain situation but did so without apologizing for his choices. And I inwardly cheered for him when he managed to temporarily overcome his very real fears of new places, strangers, and stimulation to get where he wanted to go. He is definitely an unlikely hero but I found it reassuring that, with perseverance, he could accomplish what for him is a major task. And if he can do it, so can I.

The author did a wonderful job of creating his narrator. We see what Christopher sees, and we understand more because his mind does not process all of the information in the same way. The way the book is written, complete with run-on sentences and descriptions that are literal facts from Christopher's perspective, gives the impression that what you are reading is a novel written by someone with autism. I liked the way he used different fonts and elements important to his narrator (math, lists, diagrams) to tell Christopher's story.

So, in short, very cleverly written and unexpectedly inspiring.

5 comments:

Sarah said...

YEA I'm glad you enjoyed it! I just got my copy from the library so I'll look forward to deciphering the "math speak" :)

Melvin and Carly said...

I neglected to mention the too-frequent use of a four-letter obscenity. Just so that you're forewarned.

Sarah said...

Ugh. Why do they have to ruin perfectly good books with profanity? Still, I am looking forward to reading this one!

Shafer and Lindsey said...

I agree with your assessment of the book. I was pretty skeptical about it at first, but once I got into the story I really enjoyed viewing everything from Christopher's perspective. I also agree that the swearing was a bit much for me, but at least it wasn't Christopher saying it! The book gave me a lot to think about, I didn't know much about autism before. Good choice!

Sarah said...

You know, I've never actually read Catcher in the Rye. It was never required by any of my teachers ...