Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.
In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a book which is written from the perspective of a boy with Aspergers syndrome. Haddon's knowledge of Aspergers syndrome, a type of autism, comes from his work with autistic people as a young man. In an interview at Powells.com, Haddon claimed that this was the first book that he wrote intentionally for an adult audience; he was surprised when his publisher suggested marketing it to both adult and child audiences. His second adult-novel, A Spot of Bother, was published in September 2006.
Mark Haddon is also known for his series of Agent Z books, one of which, Agent Z and the Penguin from Mars, was made into a 1996 Children's BBC sitcom. He also wrote the screenplay for the BBC television adaptation of Raymond Briggs's story Fungus the Bogeyman, screened on BBC1 in 2004. He also wrote the 2007 BBC television drama Coming Down the Mountain.
Haddon is a vegetarian, and enjoys vegetarian cookery. He describes himself as a 'hard-line atheist'. In an interview with The Observer, Haddon said "I am atheist in a very religious mould". His atheism might be inferred from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in which the main character declares that those who believe in God are stupid.
Mark Haddon lives in Oxford with his wife Dr. Sos Eltis, a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, and their two young sons.
My 34 year old daughter is severely autistic, and has been since she was seven. No one knows why and the condition has never varied in its intensity. So she is stuck in time. She knows this and vaguely resents it somewhat but gets on with things as best she can.
Each case of autism is probably unique. My daughter has no facility with numbers or memory but she does with space. As far as I can tell any enclosed space appears to her as a kind of filing system which she can decipher almost instantly. When she was twelve I brought her into a cavernous Virgin megastore to get a particular CD. She had never been in the place before, but after standing in the doorway for three or four seconds, she walked immediately to the correct aisle and bin and picked out the desired CD without any hesitation.
I have a theory, probably rubbish, that autistic people perceive the world as it actually is or, more precisely, within strictly limited categories that might be called ‘natural’, somewhat in the vein of Kantian transcendentals - space, time, numbers, etc. Most, like my daughter and Christopher, the protagonist of The Curious Incident, have no facility with purely linguistic manipulation - metaphor, lying, irony, jokes, complex allusion, actually fiction of any sort. The world is not just literal, it exists in a way that ensures words are always subservient to things and without imagination that it could be any other way.
In my experience autistic people tend to become upset when non-autistic people attempt to reverse the priority by making things subservient to words. This makes the autistic person confused, anxious, and often angry. They appear resentful that such liberties can be taken with what is so obviously reality. In effect, the autistic life is devoted to truth as what is actually ‘there’, stripped of all emotional, figurative, and cultural content.
This makes autistic people often difficult to live with. They insist and they persist about things which appear trivial to others. They nag and needle until they obtain recognition. In those areas that interest them, they are capable of splitting the finest hairs to avoid abandoning their perceptions of the world. They may on occasion conform in order to gain a point but they never really give in. They are stalwart in being, simply, themselves. Adaptation occurs elsewhere, not in them.
It is, therefore, probably impossible for non-autistic people to live without tension among autistic people. The latter are maddening in the solidity of their selves. They are, in a sense, elemental, for all we know formed in the intense energy of a star in some distant galaxy. Fortunately, the fact that most of us cannot understand their elemental force is not something that worries them very much. Their emotional reactions may be intense but these attenuate rapidly, leaving little damaging residue.
Ultimately, perhaps, autistic people are the conscience of the world. And conscience is always troublesome, not because it threatens to judge but because it reveals.
Postscript 19/08/22: My daughter died today of a cerebral stroke, aged 37. I am devastated.
If you loved The Good Sister, this book is for you!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a UK story about a 15 year-old boy named Christopher Boone. Christopher is a brilliant person who is extremely analytical and starts to investigate the death of his neighbor's dog, a poodle named Wellington. Who killed Wellington and why? Christopher will be pushed well beyond his comfort zone while unabashedly telling the truth and going on an impossible journey. How comfortable are we to change and adventure?
This book was delightfully funny as Christopher tries to solve the murder of Wellington. Christopher uses his skills of analysis to matter-of-factly investigate this horrible crime, and he vividly describes how he goes about the world, the level of detail that he observes. It was a wonderful reminder to take time to look around at the world around us. He also spoke about Stranger Danger and how uncomfortable he is when speaking to other people. For many people, conversations do not flow naturally and being bombarded by chaos and overwhelmed by stimulus is quite challenging.
The characters in this book were well developed - these are my favorite types of characters because they are imperfect but try their best especially for Christopher. This book truly is British, not an American author pretending to be British. How can I tell? Well, in my last job, my entire team was based out of London so not a day would go by that I wasn't on the phone with someone from the UK. Also, I have actually been to London so I would consider myself to be a bit more than average on UK terminology. One of the things that I found simply delightful with this book was the British approach. This is very difficult to put into words, but I shall do my best. The British usually respond less hysterical and with less overaction than Americans. For example, when I was in London, there was a protestor who had glued himself to the street. The police were freeing him and taking him down to the station. A large group of people (myself included) gathered around to watch. The protestor was sitting quite calmly while the police gently put goggles over his eyes and started the process. When they freed him, the protestor calmly accepted his fate and allowed the police to do their job. A man next to me explained in a matter of fact tone that they usually just take you down to the station for half a day and release you. He had a rather good plate of eggs when he was last detained by the police.
In America, the police would be making the onlookers disband, and the protestors aren't really that committed to actually glue themselves to anything. If someone does encounter the police, usually they are thrashing about and making the whole process as difficult as possible.
As an American reading this book, I found it so interesting how the various people interacted with Christopher because I can assure you that Americans would have reacted so very differently, and I found it rather refreshing that the adults weren't hyper-protective and allowed Christopher to fully experience his journey (to some degree). There really should be a slightly Americanized version of this book though because although I do know that The Underground is called The Tube and boot is actually the trunk of a car, there were a few times when I was a bit confused. For example, Christopher was talking about how he didn't like metaphors. One of them was "I've had a pig of a day." This phrase is not used in the The States so Christopher wasn't the only one confused.
Overall, I thought that this was a delightful read. One of my family members (a bit younger than Christopher) has a genius IQ. He is extremely talented in math and can easily build almost anything. Bring something home from IKEA, blink, and he can put it together. But he can't spell to save his life. This book was a refreshing reminder that not every person fits the traditional mold and not to judge a person based on one skillset. It's a short read - pick this one up!
2023 Reading Schedule Jan Alice in Wonderland Feb Notes from a Small Island Mar Cloud Atlas Apr On the Road May The Color Purple Jun Bleak House Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary Aug Anna Karenina Sep The Secret History Oct Brave New World Nov A Confederacy of Dunces Dec The Count of Monte Cristo
This book I read in a day. I was in a Chapters bookstore in Toronto (that's like Barnes and Noble to the Americans in the crowd) and anyway I was just browsing around, trying to kill time. When suddenly I saw this nice display of red books with an upturned dog on the cover. Attracted as always to bright colours and odd shapes, I picked it up. It's only about 250 pages or so. I read the back cover and was intrigued. I flipped through the pages and noticed that it had over One Million chapters. I was doubly intrigued.
So I walked over to the far wall of the bookstore to sit and begin to read a few pages. I always do this to ensure that I don't waste what little money I have on a book possessing nothing more than a flashy cover. (I do the same at the cinema - if I don't like the first 20 minutes, I get a refund. Restaurants, too: if I don't like the first ten bites, I walk out on the bill).
This is a book written by a Child Developmental Psychologist - I think that's the right term... - anyway, a doctor who works with mentally or physically challenged youngsters. The novel itself is a first person tale written by a high-functioning, mentally challenged boy in England who wakes up one morning to find his neighbor's dog dead on his lawn. The boy's teacher suggests he should write about the incident, which he eagerly sets out to do. So we have his first "novel", "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". He plays Inspector and tries to solve the mystery as Sherlock Holmes would do...
Of course, if he's going to write a book, that means he can take control. He hates the way other books have chapter numbers that increase sequentially (1,2,3). He prefers prime numbers and will number his chapters in sequential primes - hence, by the end of the book, you're reading chapter 123,314,124 or whatever (I ain't no math guy ;)
Now then, he also writes about other things in his life and through his perspective you get some tear-jerking moments of true, unobstructed humanity: the way his parents broke up because of his state, how he has all these dreams about being someone great and going to a top college, even though you know that his situation will never really allow it.
Anyway. I read this book cover to cover sitting on the floor of that Chapters bookstore. By the end of it I was absolutely bawling my eyes out. Never cried so much in my life. In fact, as I type this and think back on that story, I'm dripping on my keyboard (and I'm at my office!). However - these are tears of joy. The boy does it. He can do anything. It's the most uplifting book I've ever read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels anything deep down inside.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
if you want to read an excellent book about autism in a young person, read marcelo in the real world. this book is like hilary swank - you can tell it is trying really hard to win all the awards but it has no heart inside. and yet everyone eats it up. C0ME ON!!
This is the most disassociating book I've ever read. Try to read it all in one sitting -- it will totally fuck with your head and make you forget how to be normal your brain used to work.
[As I noted in the comments below, I read this book in 2004 and wrote the review in 2007, long before I understood how ableist it was for me to use "normal" as I did initially. I changed it to be more accurate and inclusive, but I wanted to leave the trail // historical record in order to show that I was wrong and there's no need to use careless language like this, which didn't even properly indicate what I meant.]
The concept is interesting: narrating the novel through the POV of an autistic boy. The chapters are cleverly numbered by prime numbers, which ties in with the novel. It has interesting illustrations and diagrams to look at. However, I would not recommend this because it disappointed me and I couldn't, in good conscience, tell anyone to read a book I was disappointed in.
I guess my disappointment lies in the fact that not only did my book club tout this as a mystery novel but also many of the literary reviews I read as well. What I was expecting was an exciting roller coaster ride mystery about an autistic boy trying to find the killer of his neighbor's dog and, as he slowly sleuths out the killer, finds himself embroiled in dangerous life threatening situations. Kind of like Tartt's The Little Friend told from an autistic POV.
However, The Curious Incident... is not a mystery in any way, shape or form and because of this, the autistic POV begins to wear thin by the second half of the novel remaining sometimes fascinating yet sometimes tedious. Instead, you get a novel that starts off as a promising murder mystery. At the first half of the novel, the mystery is solved. Or rather we're unceremoniously told who is the murderer of the dog. From that point, the second half of the novel hugely focuses on Christopher attempting to travel to London by himself. A difficult task considering Christopher is autistic, hates crowds and can't stand to be touched by people. I won't tell who the murderer is or why Christopher takes off to London, as these are the only two real surprises of the novel. I will say overall this was a huge disappointment to me. I thought I was getting an exciting murder mystery and instead I got a highly readable family melodrama. Perhaps if this was not pushed as a murder mystery I would have enjoyed it much more.
Here's what I liked about this book: 1. I found Christopher, with all his many quirks, to be sweet and rather endearing. 2. I thought it was a creative idea to write a book from the point of view of a boy with Asperger syndrome. This is difficult to pull off, but the author does it well. 3. I enjoyed Christopher's musings about life and the way in which he sees it. 4. I love making lists.
Here's what I didn't like about this book: 1. It wasn't really a mystery and I found some of it to be a bit predictable (I guessed who killed Wellington long before it was revealed). 2. The first half is better than the second half. 3. As much as I love making lists (see above), the list thing got the slightest bit annoying after awhile.
Overall, a poignant story about a young, brave autistic boy trying to make sense of and find his place in this very complicated world. Worth the read.
(Book 19 from 1001 books) - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
The novel is narrated in the first-person perspective by Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties" living in Swindon, Wiltshire.
Although Christopher's condition is not stated, the book's blurb refers to Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome.
Christopher John Francis Boone is a 15-year-old boy who has behavioral problems and lives with his father, Ed. He explains in his narration that his mother, Judy, died two years ago.
Then one day, the boy discovers the dead body of the neighbour's dog, Wellington, speared by a garden fork.
Mrs. Shears, the dog's owner, calls the police, and Christopher comes under suspicion. He is arrested, then released with a police caution.
He decides to investigate the dog's death. Throughout his adventures, Christopher records his experiences in a book. During his investigation, Christopher meets the elderly Mrs.
Alexander, who informs Christopher that his mother had an affair with Mr. Shears.
Ed discovers the book and confiscates it. While searching for the confiscated book, Christopher discovers letters from his mother dated after her supposed death.
He is so shocked that he is unable to move. Ed realizes that Christopher has read the letters.
He confesses that he had lied about Judy's death; he also admits that he had killed Wellington, after an argument with Mrs. Shears. Christopher decides to run away and live with his mother. ...
عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ماجرای عجیب سگی در شب»؛ «حادثه مرموز برای سگ در شب هنگام»؛ «حادثه ای عجیب برای سگی در شب»؛ نویسنده: مارک هادون؛ انتشاراتیها: (افق، هرمس، کاروان) ادبیات، داستان كريستوفر، نوجوان مبتلا به اوتيسم؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژانویه سال 2006میلادی
عنوان: ماجرای عجیب سگی در شب؛ نویسنده: مارک هادون؛ مترجم: شیلا ساسانی نیا؛ تهران، افق، 1384، در 343ص، مصور، شابک9643692035؛ چاپ دوم 1385؛ چاپ چهارم 1388؛ شابک 9789643692032؛ چاپ هفتم 1392؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا سده 21م
عنوان: حادثه مرموز برای سگ در شب هنگام؛ نویسنده: مارک هادون؛ مترجم ترانه شیمی؛ تهران، هرمس، 1390، در 266 ص، شابک 9789643637545؛
عنوان: حادثه ای عجیب برای سگی در شب؛ نویسنده: مارک هادون؛ مترجم: گیتا گرکانی؛ تهران، کاروان، 1384، در 272ص، شابک 9648497222؛ چاپ دوم 1385؛
نقل از متن: (سگه، نه میدوید، و نه خواب بود، مرده بود.)؛ پایان نقل
نام داستان، برگرفته از یکی از داستانهای «شرلوک هلمز» اثر «سر آرتور کانن دویل» است؛ رخدادهای داستان در «انگلستان» میگذرد، داستان شرح سفر پرماجرایی از «سوئیندون» به «لندن» است؛ داستان از زبان «کریستوفر بون» که پسری مبتلا به «اوتیسم» است، روایت و بیان میشود، و از همین روست که لحن ویژه و بیمانندی دارد؛ «کریستوفر» چون اوتیسم دارد، از درک رویدادهای عادی زندگی، ناتوان است، اما هوش بسیار ویژه ای دارد، و دنیا را دیگرگونه میبیند؛ ماجرا با کشته شدن سگی در همسایگی آنها آغاز میشود، و «کریستوفر» کوشش دارد تا قاتل سگ را با روشهای ویژه ی خویش پیدا کند
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Overview First person tale of Christopher, a fifteen-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome or high-functioning autism, and a talent for maths, who writes a book (this one - sort of - very post modern) about his investigations of the murder of a neighbour's dog. He loves Sherlock Holmes and is amazingly observant of tiny details, but his lack of insight into other people's emotional lives hampers his investigation. Nevertheless, he has to overcome some of his deepest habits and fears, and he also uncovers some unexpected secrets.
It is primarily a YA book, but there is more than enough to it to make it a worthwhile adult read as well.
ASD or not? Neither autism nor Asperger's is mentioned by name in the book, but the back cover of my 2003 first edition has this quote from neurologist Oliver Sacks that does: "Mark Haddon shows great insight into the autistic mind." Photo HERE.
Prime Chapters and Structural Quirks The structure of the book (chapter numbers are all primes; inclusion of maths puzzles and diagrams) and narrative style (attention to detail, excessive logic, avoidance of metaphor) reflect Christopher's mindset and way of viewing life. It is peppered with snippets of maths and explanations of his condition: how it affects him, and what coping strategies he adopts. The effect is plausibly stilted and occasionally breathless, which is reminiscent of people I know who are on the autistic spectrum and tallies with my limited reading about the condition.
Honest but Unreliable Narrator? Christopher's condition makes him very literal - something he is aware of. He can analyse a joke, but still not "get" it. Truth is paramount, so he hates situations where he can't tell the truth (e.g. for politeness) and indeed the fact that "everything you tell is a white lie" because you can never give a fully comprehensive answer to anything. He also hates metaphors (even "the word metaphor is a metaphor", meaning "carrying something from one place to another"), but he doesn't mind similes because they are not untrue. Christopher's feelings about metaphors are highly pertinent to a very different book, China Mieville's wonderful Embassytown (see my review HERE), which is about how minds shape language and how language shapes minds, and focuses on the relationship between similes, truth and lies.
Many novels are about uncovering what is true, but Christopher's quest takes the idea to a deeper level, and even though we know this narrator is almost pathologically truthful, his condition means his observations sometimes miss the real truth of a situation.
There is plenty of humour, and it usually arises from Christopher's naive misunderstandings of situations and the conflict between his lack of embarrassment and desire to be unnoticed by unfamiliar people.
Logic and Truth Christopher loves maths because it is safe, straightforward and has a definite answer, unlike life. He's also good at explaining some aspects, ending an explanation of calculating primes with "Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away".
His apparent deviations from logic are justified with ingenious logic. For example, having favourite and hated colours reduces choice and thus stress, counteracting the effect of his inability to filter or prioritise: he notices (and remembers) every detail of everything, and can rewind it at will, whereas other people's brains are filled with imaginary stuff. He is a little like his hero Sherlock Holmes, who is quoted saying "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance observes". Similarly, defining a good or bad day on the basis of how many red or yellow cars is no more illogical than an office-bound person's mood being dictated by the weather.
All of this means animals are a better bet than humans: "I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking - it has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk". People are more of a mystery: when having a conversation, people look at him to understand what he's thinking, but Christopher can't do likewise. For him "it's like being in a room with a one-way mirror in a spy film". Love is even more unfathomable: "Loving someone is helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth, and Father [does lots of things for me]... which means that he loves me".
Comparisons I reread this during a rather stressful journey, including the passages when Christopher is making a stressful journey. It helped me empathise with him - to the extent that it exacerbated my own stress!
It's worth comparing this with:
* Iris Murdoch's The Word Child, whose main character has tacit Asperger's tendencies. See my review HERE.
* Yōko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor, which is also about finding number patterns in everyday life, and involves a protagonist whose brain does not work like other people's. See my review HERE.
Update: my review may not be interesting, but this one definitely is, so please read it if you read the book or plan to read the book. The author created a negative stereotype of Asperger's and autism and offended the Asperger's community. He's not an expert, has no experience with these disorders and did no research (Mark Haddon's blog). I think this is really important to know when you read the book.
I'm not enthusiastic about this book. I kept asking myself this question : does this book really do justice to autistic children ? I had my doubts. No doubt the thought-processes of Christopher were sometimes accurate, but I think it was overdone most of the time. What also bothered me was the improbability that an autistic kid, who was only allowed to go to the shop at the end of the road on his own, and who has rage and panic seizures regularly, would have a Swiss Army Knife in his pocket all the time. No way!
A long time ago, I read a memoir written by a girl who has autism, and I really loved it. It was not a light read, and it left me emotionally drained, as if her life-story was about my own child. In comparison with that book, The Curious Incident was rather a light read that didn't get me emotionally involved. I would recommend this other book to everyone but the problem is I don't remember it's title or it's author. I've done a search and maybe it was this book, but I'm not sure: Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic While reading the reviews for that book, I stumbled on this review :
"I read this book when my own smart autistic son was very young, and was overwhelmed by it -- by the writing, by her memories, by her perspective on herself, and by her journey. It is a story of a brilliant woman trapped inside the odd shell autism creates, suffering inside it alone (and at the hands of her mother) and then beating her way out of it and learning, through trial and error, how to be herself. I don't have it -- I must have given it away -- or I would consult it to be more specific. But I have always kept it in mind as my son and I grow together, trying to figure out which extraordinary parts of him he needs relief from, and which are essential to who he is. All parents of children with autism want to hear the true voice of their kids who are locked inside their autism, and hearing Donna Williams' voice confirms that there are unimaginable riches of character and intelligence and sensitivity, even in the most apparently disconnected. This book is the reason I HATED The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime".
Well this review assured me that it's okay to write a negative review for this book, although I didn't hate the book, it only left me feeling cold.
Ok, I get the concept. A heartwarming story told from the vantage point of an autistic boy.
Heartwarming, eh. Sure. Cerebral? You bet. For the "Literary Snob"? ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY. (Because most of those people LOVE "The Catcher in the Rye"...one of my most hated books of all time...and this book has been compared to that one. I should have known).
Look. I'm smart, I'm educated. I'm a professional woman who adores literature and loves to read. I bought this book because I was told that it was GREAT by a couple of friends. I'd also read the reviews. I'll give it a shot, ok?
Ack. It took me a full month to get through this book. This from someone who can devour a book in twelve hours (including "masterpieces" such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice....loved them all). I didn't like it. I didn't find it "lyrical" I didn't find the writing in ANY way "superior" to some of the "genre" authors I read (Nora Roberts anyone?). It left me depressed and out of sorts. And a little pissed off.
If that's what makes a "Classic" these days, please count me out. I'll stick with my "silly" genre novels ANY day of the week.
this book rocked my world, and i've been trying for weeks to understand why. here it is:
* because the plot is flawless
* because the voice is flawless
* because it's amazingly tender without being cute
* because there's a christopher boone in me, and a christopher boone in everyone i love or at least try to get along with
* because the christopher boone in me loves to see itself written about lovingly, like it's the coolest kid, if not on the block (it will never be the coolest kid on the block), at least in the annals of literature
* because the christopher boone in those i love or at least try to get along with is telling me, "be patient; please, be patient; i'm doing the best i can"
* because i understand this plea, since it's a plea i issue myself like 230 times a day
This is the touching, raw, heart-string pulling, and sometimes frustrating story of Christopher Boone. He is the protagonist and narrator of the story while suffering from emotional and developmental disorders with some savant capabilities. The interesting thing is the whole time he tells his story, while his behavior is odd and different from others, he never seems to acknowledge the fact that he knows he is different. During his interactions with other characters he feels he is being logical and reasonable while those he is talking to are ripping their hair out in frustration. It makes for some very interesting and entertaining situations.
A character and story that this could possibly be compared to is Forrest Gump. Lots of little anecdotes mixed in with a main storyline by a narrator who really does not understand the impact of his involvement or why things are the way they are. Curious, but simple. The only major difference is that Forrest stayed fairly pleasant throughout the story while Christopher gets very violent when he gets uncomfortable.
I read this towards the end of a reading slump. I think this might be the perfect book to help get someone out of a reading slump. It is not very long, the story is not complex, and the content is very intriguing. I burned right through this because I could not wait to see what happened next while Christopher unraveled the mystery. I feel I could recommend this to almost anyone.
Disclaimer: Have you not read The Hound of the Baskervilles, but you want to? DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST! Christopher ruins the book! He spends one chapter going through the entire plot and then lays out the key points and spoilers in bullet points. Between this and several books I have read recently describing the climax of Anna Karenina, I kind of don’t feel safe from spoilers!
Winner of the 2003 Whitbread Book Awards for Best Novel and the Book of the Year; the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book; and the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. On rereading, this is still an amazing book, Haddon's bestselling, eye-opening, both beautiful and heart breaking look at the world through the first person narrative of a person with an emotionally dissociated mind (autistic?).
A truly remarkable piece of a fiction, that is still yet to be really matched for its blend of reality, humour, pathos and pragmatism. A book that takes a high-functioning person with a social disability that not only shares their struggles but also goes all-out to highlight the positives (angering some of the community in the real world) of having such a condition. 9 out of 12.
Such a terrible and overhyped book - please, if you want to write a book that is meant to make people feel sympathy (if not empathy) for the main characters, don't make him a sociopathic spoilt brat who ruins everyone's lives without feeling sympathy. Yes, he's meant to be autistic, but Haddon didn't bother researching autism at all so that point is moot. I can't describe how much I wanted this little shit to be ran over by a train when he went to fetch his pet rat (which had made an entirely understandable decision and ran away from Chrissy), but alas, he wasn't and he went on to ruin someone else life.
I can deal with a character that is evil (in the sense that they hurt others), but they have to have some charm or they just come out as one dimensional douchebags. There was nothing interesting about Chrissy boy, he just commented about how good he was at maths, how much he hated people (even when those people were trying to help him), and how hard his life is even when he is being mollycoddled. Make no mistake, I have nothing against autistic people, but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of autistic people don't think they're God's gift and that everyone else deserves to die; my (admittedly limited) understanding of autism suggests that people suffering from autism have trouble expressing emotion, rather than being devoid of it. Haddon's lack of research seemed to show mainly in the fact that, even though the book is meant to be from the viewpoint of an autistic child, the understanding of autism seemed to be very superficial, as if Haddon had looked at child with autism and said "yep, what they say and act like must be exactly how they think... Better write a book about it."
Understandably, as I wasn't overly fussed on Chrissy boy, I did not enjoy the writing style at all. It was a recount of events in the most obnoxious way, appearing not to have taken any literary skill at all. It is very reminiscent of how I (and most others) used to write when I (or they) was five, you know, saying "and this and then and now and when and and and and" - I was sat there thinking "say 'and' again, I dare you, I double dare you!", and if I had been Jules (I think he was the one played by Mr. jackson), I'd have shot Chrissy boy around seven hundred times, because it seems the only word the author could think to write was 'and'.
If this had been fully a murder mystery, then I may have given this book a two stars (providing it was done well) because a good puzzle can make up for unlikable characters and shoddy writing. But no, the culprit was 'found' (he gave himself in without any tension leading up to the moment) and then the book turns into a family drama. A family drama about a horrible and boring family. Great.
This book lied to me, it should have been called "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and the Less Curious Incident of a Dysfunctional Family".
Another thing that really bugged me was the random God-bashing thing. I'm not a Christian (or religious at all), but it was not needed in the slightest, it was as if Haddon thought he may as well get Dawkins on all our asses. It felt really preachy and forced and it didn't fit in the context of that part of the story, it was just stupid.
The final point I'll make is that this book gives people a false view of autism, and many people who did not know much about the condition before may now think this unresearched drivel is correct.
Why I chose to read this book: 1. a few years ago, I've read several positive reviews about this story, so I added it to my WTR list. Imagine my thrill upon finding a copy in a thrift shop! and, 2. August 2022 is my "As the Spirit Moves Me Month".
Praises: 1. author Mark Haddon's experience working with autistic individuals clearly shines in this story! From the first paragraph, I was drawn in by 15-year-old Christopher's life with ASD through Haddon's captivating writing style - I didn't want to put this book down! From the precision in the dialogue to Christopher's astute thought processes, I developed immense empathy for this protagonist; 2. the character development was executed very well! Even if some characters made dubious choices, they were believable. And because of this, the ending couldn't have worked out better than it did. It was also nice to see that Christopher had a reliable support system with EA Siobhan; and, 3. my emotions ran the gamut from laughter to heartbreak!
Niggle: Christopher used some mathematical and/or scientific thought processes to work out various personal issues. I tried to follow along or, at least I tried to relate to it in this story, but, unfortunately, my poor little fishy brain wasn't on the same wavelength as Christopher's!
Overall Thoughts: Over the years, I have taught students on the Spectrum, so it was lovely to see bits and pieces of them in Christopher's character. This story was such an eye-opening look into the world of ASD!
Recommendation? A quick but enlightening read of how one person, along with his family and acquaintances, live with ASD. Check it out!
Am I autistic? Am I Christopher Boone? What is it about my OCD (self-diagnosed, boo yah!) that separates me from this fifteen-year-old kid? Fate is kind, but there is nothing more disturbing than learning that you possess so many of those qualities that categorize people as "special needs." I mean, shit. Choosing Item A over Item B because you like the color? Yep. Counting incessantly? Yep. Getting lost in London Underground? Yep. Quirky eating habits? Yep. Getting ridiculously sidetracked during storytelling? Yep. Yep, yep, yep. I've got it all. And it wasn't so bothersome at first, but as I read on, I grew to empathize with this kid so much so, that I felt like a fucking crazy person. I'm glad I'm done reading it.
Some items of note: 1. Christopher likes maths. I remember when I used to like maths. Maths are fun! 2. Christopher has a pet rat. I remember when I used to have a pet rat. Pet rats are fun! 3. I wish Siobhan was my girlfriend. Well, sorta. I mean, I don't think I'd be satisfied sexually, but still. She seems like a great gal. 4. I have decided that it is impossible for non-crazy people to ever reach peace and comforting solitude. That's why snatching it bit by bit is necessary. 5. I don't want to give birth.
Thank you, Mr. Haddon, for the quick read. Life is quite complicated, even outside London, huh?
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. What a wonderful experience to read this book. To be taken into the mind of a teenage boy with high-functioning autism is quite extraordinary. To understand how he thinks compared to those of us not autistic is mind opening and thought provoking.
This wonderful mystery is told by Christopher who sets out to solve the murder of Wellington, the neighbor's dog. This is no minor feat. Christopher has a difficult time socializing as he can't pick up on nuances or cues like other people. He doesn't like to be touched which can sometimes get him into trouble. He says what he thinks without having the skill set to understand how others will react which gets him into difficult situations. Told with humor, we get to see how the mind of someone on the spectrum is wired differently than the rest of us. Told using many mathematical references, we also see the intellectual genius of Christopher which is quite common among those with Asperger's. From a personal perspective, my 23 year old son with Asperger's often says to me, "Mom my brain doesn't think like yours". The book shows us this in the interactions he has with his parents and others around him frequently.
A fast and enjoyable book for everyone. Don't miss it. 5 out of 5 stars.
I haven’t read a fictional account this heartbreakingly realistic in a long time. Kapitoil was close, but The Curious Incident paints a more complete picture.
The book is from the viewpoint of an teen boy with Asperger's syndrome named Christopher - his mom has recently died and he discovers a dead dog in one of his neighbor’s yards. The short list: he doesn’t read people’s emotions very well (like the android “Data” from Star Trek next Generation, if you will), he hates the colors yellow and brown, excels at math, hates to be touched (enter the fist: he breaks out a pretty nasty uppercut when it happens) and often loses his memory when he gets upset. Like many teenage boys, he dreams of long periods of alone time.
Since he doesn’t care much about other people’s emotions, he goes around knocking on doors in his neighborhood to ask who killed the dog. So he has your attention right away. He’s a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, who he perceives as the master of objective details that others overlook. Except that no one wants to tell him anything about the dog except the kindly, lonely old Mrs. Alexander, who finally breaks it to the boy that his mom was cheating on his dad. Then a lot more rains down.
The dad comes across as calm, especially to a young kid, yet is passive-aggressive person who doesn’t always realize how much clarity his son needs. When he tells Christopher to “drop all this investigation nonsense”, the son considers what he finds out from Mrs. Alexander as “small talk” and not what his dad forbade - “snooping around” the neighborhood asking about a dead mutt.
In fact, the father’s passive-aggressiveness and the son’s determination and objectivity make for heartbreaking tension. The crux of the story isn’t about the dog, it’s what the dad keeps from Christopher “until he gets old enough to understand”. Even though he’s autistic, we find out that Christopher is old enough to know anything - and will go way out of his way to find the truth.
This is a book that doesn’t end neatly and nicely because life usually doesn’t turn out that way. It just sort of ends. We learn a lot about autism, it’s very defined characteristics and why it’s so difficult for ‘normal’ people to be around. There is no one in the story who treats Christopher the way he wants to be treated except a counselor at school.
This is a good story in which we learn a lot about this condition. If the story needs to stall because the narrator is stuck on telling all the facts of a particular situation, then that’s what happens. You don’t necessarily comprehend why everything is written the way it’s written, but it somehow all feels important by the end. I raced through everything regardless.
And the boy’s objectivity lends a prophetic feel to some of the things he says. He wonders why people think they’re superior to animals, for example. His thinking is that in a couple of centuries the human race might evolve to where the human beings of today end up on display in a zoo. And if we all kill each other through war or wearing out the planet, then insects could end up being the most superior creatures on earth. He has interesting theories on the constellations, the Big Bang theory, major religions, etc.
Sure, a general comparison could be made to the movie “Rainman”, except that this book gives complete attention to the afflicted character, Christopher. It breaks down one of society’s more recent creations - the mental institution, one of the big barriers between “us” and “them”. You discover there’s a ton of humanity and things to consider and learn from someone you may have previously been too nervous to be around.
This is the story of Christopher Boone, a very likable 15 year old who suffers from Asperger Syndrome, a type of higher functioning Autism. Christopher sets out to solve a mystery; who killed Wellington, his neighbors dog, something he wants very much to do because he is accused of committing the crime. Christopher’s detective work helps him solve some other mysteries along the way, one that is much more important than who killed Wellington.
Please don't take this book to be the actual workings of an autistic mind. The author admittedly knows nothing about autism and simply wrote a work of fiction, imagining what might have been going on in the head of a character he invented. He even has expressed irritation that the word autism was used on the dust jacket by the publisher in some editions, because he is sometimes asked to give speeches on a subject of which he is totally ignorant. Enjoy this book as a work of fiction but nothing more. This book is not really about autism, even though the boy has many traits of that condition. The inner workings of his head are not what actual autistic people report the condition to be like. Please do not use this book to try to understand an autistic person in your life, or to gather any information about Asperger 's Syndrome or anything else related. Temple Grandin's books are much better for this purpose.
I wish the author would make a new edition with a disclaimer at the beginning.
I enjoyed the story, once I understood the above, but I am rating it low to try and combat the spread of misconceptions. Unfortunate, since the author didn't do this on purpose, but it is what it is.
My older son is autistic spectrum, so this was a must-read. But even if you don't know any autistic people, it's a great novel. The central character is engaging and totally credible. Funny how it's suddenly become cool to be autistic... Lisbeth Salander from Män som hatar kvinnor is the latest and most extreme example. What does that say about our society? Have we been too respectful of people whose main ability is to manipulate the emotions of others, and are we now thinking better of it?
ولفگانگ آمادئوس موتسارت با آن که در آن زمان هنوز این اختلال شناخته شده نبود، بعضی با مطالعه ی رفتارهای موتسارت، به این نتیجه رسیده اند که او مبتلا به اوتیسم بوده: قوه ی شنوایی حساس، نیاز به حرکت دادن دائمی دست و پا، و در یک مورد، وقتی حوصله اش سر رفته بوده، پریدن و پشتک زدن روی میز و صندلی ها و در آوردن صدای گربه.
آلبرت آینشتاین عدم قدرت ارتباط با دیگران، حساسیت به لمس شدن توسط دیگران، اخراج از مدرسه به خاطر مشکلات یادگیری، و انتخاب مکان های دور از دیگران برای مطالعات فیزیکی.
استنلی کوبریک معروف است که این کارگردان معروف، وسواسی جنون آمیز داشته که همه ی جزئیات بی شمار صحنه های فیلم، دقیقاً همان طور که در ذهن اوست تصویر شوند و به این ترتیب، بارها و بارها، یک صحنه ی جزئی را برداشت می کرده.
تیم برتون همسر این کارگردان (هلنا بونهام کارتر، بازیگر) وقتی برای یک فیلم، راجع به اوتیسم مطالعات جانبی می کرده، ناگهان متوجه می شود که بیشتر خصوصیات این اختلال، در همسر او نیز موجود است.
افراد دیگری هم جزء این لیست شمرده شده اند، از نیوتون و ویتگنشتاین، تا داروین و میکل آنژ، و حتی لیونل مسی. در داستان مصور "تیمارستان آرکام" یکی از پرستارها راجع به جوکر می گوید: ما نمی توانیم با اطمینان او را تحت "دیوانه" طبقه بندی کنیم، شاید او دارای گونه ای "فرا-عقل" باشد، که در اثر تکامل نوع انسانی ایجاد شده باشد. در این شرایط است که آدم به فکر می رود که آیا اوتیسم حقیقتاً نوعی اختلال است یا نوعی فرا-انسان بودن؟ آیا می توان به صرف این که نابغه ای انعطاف ناپذیر است و نمی تواند با دیگران ارتباط برقرار کند، او را دچار اختلال دانست؟ شاید این ها لوازم نبوغ هستند؟
There is a special magic reading the first chapters of Christopher's account with a group of teenagers.
Usually, they are indifferent to start with, just another book that will end up an essay or another assignment. They are tired, and in their teenage grandiosity, they think they know everything about how "books work". And then they frown.
Teenage pedants kicks in.
"That's not chapter 7!"
"He got all the numbers wrong!"
"What a stupid book!"
Once that discussion starts, the teacher pedant has to restrain herself not to give the answer, not to lecture the students on what they are "supposed" to discover in the patterns. They will like it so much more if they find out how Christopher functions on their own, without the meddling of a typical adult teacher mind.
Once they do find out they are usually engaging in the story on a deeper level: it reads like a mystery that works on two levels - one being the mystery Christopher tries to solve himself, and the other being cracking the code to communicating with Christopher on his terms.
This is young adult fiction that really fulfils its purpose of engaging adolescents in topics that they can relate to, while also offering enough tension and suspense to keep them on the edge, turning pages.
The message (especially to students who suffer from lacking belief in themselves and in the future) is a perfect closing statement: if Christopher can be brave and solve a mystery and go to London and write a book and find his mother, he can do anything - and so can YOU!
One of the best YA books ever, wonderful and surprising on so many levels. Very moving. As a parent of a kid with autism and another kid who is spectrum-y, it hits home for me in ways it might not for others. As with many mysteries, it features some misdirection; it appears to be about a kid with Asperger's Syndrome investigating a mystery about a dead dog in the manner of his hero (and also Aspergerish) Sherlock Holmes, but becomes an even richer and ever widening investigation of human tragedy and mystery and the complex nature of love and grief. I find it very moving, having read it several times.
My feeling this time? That almost half of the book is about the London trip when Christopher goes to see his estranged mother, and maybe that's a little too long; it makes the story into a kind of movie thriller of sorts, when the heart of the book for me is about mysteries, a dog murdered and just what that means for Christopher and his family, relationships, love, the grief and despair of dealing with a kid with special needs, that heartbreak, all stuff I have been through. I was divorced in the process of trying to deal with the anguish and despair and grief of discovering my son had autism, at the same time trying to do everything we could to try to reverse the process. So I could empathize with the parents.
One thing that is different in recent readings is that I have watched and rewatched the BBC Sherlock and the American Elementary and I have this as background for a very Sherlock-focused book (it's Christopher's favorite set of stories). I also have been reading Agatha Christie Poirot mysteries, so I have that related background. And, one course I have been teaching focuses on the relationships between psychiatry, the psychic/supernatural, horror/fantasy, spirituality, the literar vs the rational and logical, and some of that figures very much in this book. I had forgotten Christopher talks of faith and ghosts in this book with respect to logic and Reason. There's a consideration of metaphor and story for the purpose of making meaning, since this first person story is told by Christopher for a school project, a story of ever widening mysteries of life. I admit to tears in several places, earned tears from Haddon.
You can't please everyone, and I guess books can be a good example of that statement. I know a lot of people who liked this book very much, but on the other hand, I also know a few people who would not hesitate to burn this book. I'm on the positive side. I really enjoyed this short novel.
I've said this numerous times in my other reviews that I like character driven novels. This book obviously focused on Christopher's development more than the plot's. The author succeeded, because I've gotten attached to the little kiddo. I have a soft spot for people, more on children, with disabilities. I can't stomach to be annoyed at them because it's not something they can control. While I don't know anyone personally with autism, the author managed to give justice to the sickness. It's not the best book on autism, but it's a short preview of it.
I honestly don't like reading huge novels during the school year. I'd rather read those gigantic books during my breaks because I tend to enjoy them better when read at my own pace. Reading is not a task for me, but it's something that I consider to be leisure. Stress from the university is not something I could control, so reading shorter novels help me unwind at times. It's actually my exam week next week but I managed to squeeze this book in my hectic schedule. I didn't feel like rushing because it was so short to begin with. Aside from being short, it was also really entertaining.
Like I said, it's not a novel that everyone's going to love, but I'd recommend taking the risk and find out for yourself. Sometimes the opinion of others may seem right, but in the end it's all about what the novel made you feel after reading. You don't have to go with the flow and hate on something you actually like.