Thursday, June 17, 2004

Just finished reading The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, a witty, thought-provoking and very readable short novel by Mark Haddon. It's about a 15-year-old autistic British boy who fancies himself a detective, and begins investigating the case of a dead dog in his neighborhood. Now, it could've been awful, "Rain Man" meets "Columbo," but it's written with understanding and a lot of humor by Haddon.
The hero of the book, Christopher John Francis Boone, narrates and we see the world through his eyes. Haddon inserts little graphics and charts to show us Christopher figuring out the world around him. Haddon has an understanding of autism, having spent several years working with autistic children. He doesn't play it for laughs or cheap sentiment. Autism is a hard thing to understand, as it creates a kind of separate universe for people who deal with it, with a system of rules and barriers unknowable to the rest of us. Haddon does one of the best jobs I've yet seen at conjuring an austic's world for us. Haddon's language is simple, but the story he tells is pretty profound. "Curious Incident" also reminded me a bit of the great "Adrian Mole" books by Sue Townsend. A quick, short read, it's a good novel worth seeking out.

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