Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-time


The cover note says that this is a murder mystery novel like no other.  The detective and narrator is Christopher Boone.  Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome [although that is not mentioned in the text of the book].  He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings.  He loves lists, patterns and the truth.  He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched.  He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

“This will not be a funny book," says Christopher. "I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them."   But that’s not altogether the case.  It is a book with humour and pathos.   I am acquainted with people with Asperger’s Syndrome and to be able to gain an appreciation through this book of how they see the world  was a challenge and an education.

The eyes of a child are often used to portray the frailties of adults and human life in general and this not only uses the eyes and mind of a child but it strips everything he sees of emotion and narrates it in a cold and logical format which I found at the same time both simple and hard to read. 

I’m not sure that this can really be described as a murder mystery novel but it is a book which I found hard to put down and impossible to ignore.  I also learned quite a lot about maths!

My only reservation is that when the author got to the end of the book it was as if he suddenly just gave up and finished writing.

Would I recommend it?  Without hesitation.  Even if you don’t enjoy the story you will learn about a human condition and that will help you to understand an alternative view of life.  That has to be a Good Thing.


Because time is not like space.  And when you put something down somewhere, like a protractor or a biscuit, you can have a map in your head to tell you where you have left it, but even if you don’t have a map in your head it will still be there because a map is a representation of things that actually exist so that you can find the protractor or the biscuit again.  And a timetable is a map of time, except that if you don’t have a timetable time is not there like the landing and the garden and the route to school. Because time is only the relationship between the way different things change, like the earth going round the sun and atoms vibrating and clocks ticking and day and night and waking up and going to sleep , and it is like west and nor-nor-east which won’t exist when the earth stops existing and falls into the sun because it’s only a relationship between the North Pole and the South Pole and everywhere else, like Mogadishu and Sunderland and Canberra.

People believe in God because the world is very complicated and they think it is very unlikely that anything as complicated as a flying squirrel or the human eye or a brain could happen by chance.  But they should think logically and if they thought logically they would see that they can only ask this question because it has already happened and they exist.

After posting this I remembered that Scriptor Senex had read it when he was here last year.  See his blog entry at  A Book Every Six Days.