One of my favorite literary devices is an unreliable narrator. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time turns that notion on its head by providing a most truthful narrator: a teenage boy with an autism spectrum condition. The narrator, Christopher, is mentally incapable of lying (though he has a talent for noting loopholes) and therefore presents his experiences as wholly accurate accounts. But quickly the reader learns that even such pure truth is filtered by the person’s understanding of the events.
In my case, I was a listener. On our long drive to Arkansas for Thanksgiving, Ber and I got several audiobooks from the library to help things along. This is actually the only one we listened to all the way through as we would normally turn the books off when the baby fell asleep.
The interesting narrator holds most of the weight of the book, but that seems enough with the skilled design of its plot. Just enough happens for Christopher to react to that any amount of unexpected twists or secondary storyline would be fluff; a distraction from the character we care about.
One line (bolded below within a larger quote for context) I enjoyed I keep coming back to for nearly a month now:
And Siobhan says people go on holidays to see new things and relax, but it wouldn’t make me relaxed and you can see new things by looking at earth under a microscope or drawing the shape of the solid made when 3 circular rods of equal thickness intersect at right angles. And I think that there are so many things just in one house that it would take years to think about all of them properly. And also, a thing is interesting because of thinking about it and not because of it being new.
As a person who is most happy when left alone to do nothing other than think through whatever is in my head – yeah, I agree.
I also loved this book because it had my five-billionth reference to the Monty Hall problem within like one week. Other ones including Numberphile (via my chronological listen of Hello Internet) and Back to Work. So when the main character explained it so easily I actually knew the answer too. I also love that Haddon has this funny webpage about that bit from the book. It’s like the law of Monty Hall: make something about the Monty Hall problem and everyone will email you to tell you you’re wrong.
It’s a well-executed book with an interesting premise. Would recommend it to anyone in book or audiobook form.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, part of my 2016 Reading
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