The Curious Incident of the dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon | Teen Ink

The Curious Incident of the dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

October 1, 2009
By Anonymous

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a hit. A national bestseller and joint winner of the 2004 Boeke Prize, this novel truly gives the reader a new perspective on life. Mark Haddon grew up in a small town in Northampton, England. As a kid, he spent a lot of his free time helping mentally impaired and special needs children. He moved to Merton College, Oxford, to spend his college years where he studied English and there he wrote his first book Gilbert's Gobstopper, in 1987. He got married to a fellow student at Oxford and had two kids. Later in his career, after small successes like Agent Z Meets the Masked Crusader (1993) and Agent Z and the Killer Bananas (2001), he came up with the idea for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. His idea came from his younger days helping special needs kids, maybe even one in particular. After writing this, his career skyrocketed into the bright heavens that are success.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is about a young autistic boy named Christopher who finds a neighborhood dog, stabbed by a fork. He tries to use his logical qualities to find the murderer and bring safety back to his neighborhood. This story is a long line of unveiling all sorts of truths along the way and the reader gets to preview how the mind works of this unique character. There are many in instances when you get to see the world through Christopher’s eyes, like when he describes how different emotional faces confuse him. “I got Siobhan (his teacher) to draw lots of these faces and then write down next to them exactly what they meant. I kept the piece of paper in my pocket and took it out when I didn’t understand what someone was saying. (3)” This is how he decides peoples emotions, because he is unable to decipher emotions from tone.

There are many different ways that Mark Haddon uses his unique writing style to enlighten the reader. His knowledge of literature and dealings with autistic children and entwined and given him the ability to write a one of a kind piece of literature. His use of descriptions for new characters while using Christopher’s autism to describe them is individualistic and few authors will ever have the ability to create imagery like this. Like when Christopher was investigating the murder, he meets his neighbors to ask questions. “They were black people and they were a man and a lady with two children, a boy and a girl. The lady answered the door. She was wearing boots which looked like army boots and there were 5 bracelets made out of a silver-colored metal on her wrist and they made a jangling noise. (37)” And Mr. Haddon not only uses the boy’s autism to help him tell the story, but also the fact that Christopher is a young boy, and sees the world so innocently. This is a huge factor in how the story is told, with his belief that those he trust are unable to lie like him. This ignorance is revealed in chapter 157. “Then I stopped reading the letter because I felt sick…Father had lied…I tried really hard to think if there was any other explanation but I couldn’t think of one. And then I couldn’t think of anything at all because my brain wasn’t working properly (112).”And in case you were just scared by the fact that there are at least 157 chapters, that’s another unique thing Mark Haddon does. The chapters are listed in prime numbers, because Christopher likes prime numbers. Also, a unique factor in how this book was written was the fact that it is told as if Christopher wrote this book. In fact it tells you that several times in the novel how he was writing it and showing his teacher. I like this method because it allows more insight to Christopher’s life.

I would highly recommend this novel to individuals who enjoy a fresh view on life and enjoy a good read. It is very easy to sit down and read this book till the end in one sitting, so when you do start reading, make sure you have a lot of spare time. This novel not only helped me realize how lucky I am for my fortunes, but let me realize how I can influence anyone with something as common as a lie. Mark Haddon is a promising writer and I look forward to reading his future works.

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