The Curious Incident

of the Dog in the Night-Time

 

by Mark Haddon (Doubleday)

 

(This column first appeared in the August 21, 2003 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)

 

I find it difficult to speak highly enough about this genuinely touching novel. Suffice it to say, I gained more pleasure from reading it than from any book since Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai. The narrator, Christopher John Francis Boone, is a very bright fifteen-year old, especially attracted to mathematics and science. But Christopher is also autistic, a youngster whom we would consider an emotional cripple. His interactions with other humans are like those of an alien from another world, extremely difficult for him and even more difficult for those with whom he negotiates. The problems he has created within his family have driven his parents apart but they retain their love for him as does one of his teachers. Others understand Christopher no better than he understands them. Then the incident of the book title creates new difficulties. He strikes out at the policeman questioning him about the dead dog and his father must intervene. But further complications force Christopher to undertake a trip by subway and train that even to us might be problematic but to him is as terrifying as any Odyssey. The brief fly-leaf author biography tells us that he has worked with autistic children and I believe that he captures in this splendid book the world of these youngsters who can be so hard for us to understand but who deserve not only our understanding but our love and support as well.-- Gerry Rising