The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

September 30, 2009
Although the title may strongly hint that the novel is about a mystery surrounding a dog, the book is much more than that. “Curious Incident” simply starts off the novel with a murder of a dog and leads to something more serious, but still far from stellar.

The author of the novel, Mark Haddon, is mainly known in Britain for his children books such as the ”Agent Z” series. Although he is not known for writing for adult audiences, he has written this book, and another book, “A Spot of Bother”, intended for adults. Interestingly, both novels are not written about the average person but about an autistic child and a hypochondriac adult. But “Curious Incident” is the more famous novel, which has won him the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 2004 Commonwealth's Writer's Prize for Best First Book.
So I decided to read this book, for it was a favorite of a friend of mine, but I now have doubts about him. Part of the reason why this novel is widely acclaimed as “gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent (The Boston Globe)” is because of the author's intention of writing through the mind of an autistic person. I however, do not at all consider this as a strength of the novel, regardless of the opinions of other literary critics. The narration leaves many instances when the narrator will stray from chapters and may even devote entire chapters to frivolous and unrelated details. Although it does give an insight to the narrator's mind, it detracts from the story greatly in my opinion, and has caused me to roll my eyes and take a breather. But some readers do not seem to mind the spontaneity of this novel and find it fun to read although the plot is nothing special. But for those looking for a good read, with a great story that will keep the pages turning, this is simply not the book for them. The plot of a child trying to solve a dog homicide who ends up reuniting with his mother is nothing new to the literary world and the extra details are far from helpful. Of course, every novel has its moments that seem unrelated, but I have come across very, very few that have too many of these “moments” that they actually take up such a significant portion of the novel that it can overwhelm the already mundane main plot such as this novel.
Forcing myself to recognize the pros of this novel, I can say that the novel does have its merits. Christopher, the narrator, says exactly how he feels about certain events and makes no effort to polish or hide the truth. This way, the characters and events are what they seem to be, literally and figuratively, for Christopher is very objective with his writing. For example, Christopher explains that he “used to think that Mother and Father might get divorced…because of the stress of looking after someone who has Behavioral Problems like [he has]. (Haddon)” Christopher has no intention of trying to embellish his parent's relationship, nor his mental issues. Christopher is straight out honest, as stated in the novel. In addition, Christopher does not let the reader label characters as good or bad. He shares the truth about characters whether or not it is favorable and therefore gives a greater perspective of the characters. “I want to see my son… Why the hell is he locked up? (Haddon)” says Christopher's father in one chapter and “how stupid are you? (Haddon)” in another. Given both extremes of his father, the reader can assume that he is simply a father who loves his son yet has inner conflicts of his own. The reader can relate the father to any other father, or to even him or herself. Hence, the characters seem more real and make the novel seem more like a personal diary than a novel.
But all in all, this story simply lacked the integrity to truly immerse the reader into the novel due to its immature plot and extraneous details. If this novel is truly considered as Haddon's great adult fiction novel, literary critics should consider retirement. But as for me, I stand by my opinion that this book is far from remarkable and is not recommended by me.

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dahjoo92 said...
Oct. 28, 2009 at 8:21 am
Amazing. Truly inspirational.
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