In last week’s post, I talked about a PBS series called The Great American Read. I mentioned that I’d previously read twenty-six book off the “top one-hundred” list, and that I intended to read many more.
I just finished a book by Mark Haddon called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The book was literally on my book table, in my ‘to-be-read’ pile.
This story is written from the view-point of an autistic teen, who is 15 years, 3 months, and 2 days old. Christopher John Francis Boone doesn’t understand social niceties, prefers not to be touched, and is a science and math genius. (Think Rain Man.)
The story open seven minutes after midnight when Christopher notices the neighbor’s dog- dead- and stuck to the lawn, having been stabbed with a pitchfork. At least he thinks that’s the reason the dog is dead. He deduces that if the dog had died of Cancer or been hit by a car – died in some other way than by pitchfork- there would be no reason to stick one into the dog.
Christopher makes it his business to find out who would do such a thing. Even though he does not like to talk to people, and certainly would not initiate conversation, he decides to become a detective and find the murderer. Christopher learns many things about life and love while on his mission.
There are some things about this book that I really liked, and some things I did not. I’ll start with what I liked about the book.
First, Christopher has no social filter. He sees everything and it confounds him. His observations about name-calling are inspired and thought provoking.
Also, he tries to use math and science, very linear and logical fields, to understand human nature and society. It doesn’t work too well, but his math discussions are worth thinking about: “ [Mr. Jeavons said] Math wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end.”
Christopher talks about The Monty Hall Problem to illustrate what he means. Three doors- A car behind one door and goats behind the other two. You pick a door but it’s not opened. Monty Hall opens a different door and it reveals a tiny herd goats. Now you’ve got two doors unopened.
Do you have 2 in 3 chances to pick the car, or do you have a 50-50 chance in picking the car? Should you stick with the (unopened) door you’ve already selected or switch to the other unopened door?
(By the way, this hurts my brain, but some of you, dear readers, might like this mathematical challenge!)
Now, what I don’t like about this book.
First, the only cuss word used in the book is fuck. It’s used many times. And did I mention this is a teen book? Why? Why not shit, or damn-it? Did the author go for a cheesy thrill? Would every character who cussed be the kind of person to choose only that one curse word? Did he think his book would not sell if it excluded Mother of All Cuss Words? I think he easily could have used other swear words just as effectively.
Next, I did not like the plot shift. I really wanted this book to be something other than what it was. I did not like Christopher’s parents. Although, I must say, the author did make them very real, fragile, over-whelmed human beings. If you like books about the human experience, seen through “different” eyes, you may like this book. That’s pretty much all I want to say about this book.
So now I’ve read twenty-seven books on the list. And I’ve started another.
I’d love to know what you’ve read from the list. Tell me! Also, will you vote for one? Or more than one?
Until next time, keep reading,
And be good to yourself!