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Discuss The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Members of the forum choose and read a new book every month together, and then discuss it. Each book of the month get's it's own whole subforum in this forum. Click here to nominate books for book of the month.

Discuss The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » 06 Jan 2010, 22:16

Please use this thread to discuss the January book of the month, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Please read the book before reading this thread because this thread will contain spoilers.

What do you think of the book? Would you recommend it?

I enjoyed reading the book very much. I definitely recommend it.

It is not very long which is a plus for me. The more time I put into reading a book, the more I expect to get out of it.

I think the narration method is very interesting, enjoyable and well-done. I think having the autistic child narrate a story completely changes the tone and potential of the story. In some cases it is humorous, which is particularly comical since the author does not intend to be funny and claims to be incapable of making jokes. Also, I think the book causes the reader to think philosophically about the nature of consciousness and perception. For instance, consider the way Chris realizes and understands certain things as being common sense that most people do not and how most people notice other things like humor or how to take a train that seem complicated to Chris. It makes one realize how subjective so many things actually are.

I wonder how accurate the author's depiction of the high-functioning autistic mind is. I would love to read some comments and reviews of the book by psychologists and other relevant scientists especially those who have specifically studied autism.

Anyway, what do you all think?
Last edited by Scott on 22 Jul 2011, 19:30, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Number:#2  Postby Gannon » 08 Jan 2010, 03:14

This is an extremely short book. I actually finished it in one sitting. I did enjoy reading it, however I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I think the whole appeal of the book is that it is narrated by a young boy with autism. It is interesting reading how he approaches and deals with the problems that he faces throughout the book. Some parts of the book, particularly when he is working his way through a problem have the feel of a text book. The ending was not as bad as it was boring. It was a nice happy ending for everybody, however I think (and I will probably cop flak from my fellow readers here) a tragic ending would have suited the book much better.

I did enjoy the book and would recommend it simply because the autistic aspect of the book makes it a very interesting read.
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Post Number:#3  Postby N » 09 Jan 2010, 22:38

I agree with Gannon. It's great cause of the POV, but a tragic ending would have been a lot better. I was totally expecting one.

Interesting storyline. Who would have the father killed the dog?! And the mom was still alive! Didn't see those coming. Really cool book.
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Post Number:#4  Postby Pinkpaper » 10 Jan 2010, 07:27

This is my review which I ended up giving it 3/5. I also didnt see his mum still being alive or his dad killing the dog coming.

Abit of a page turner this one, the plot is not so much about the dead dog but the challenges Christopher has to face as a result of the following events. Challenges such as being in new public places and talking to people he doesnt know.

My brother has Aspergers and I often tell people that its like living in a alternative reality for him and I think this book showed this well.

There were also other points in the book which showed how well the author had gotten into the head of someone with Aspergers which other people may not pick up unless they knew someone with the condition for example when Christopher talks to his neighbour about his rat. The author was also not patronising.

An enjoyable read
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Post Number:#5  Postby jdoug » 15 Jan 2010, 12:29

I read this book last year and completely loved it.
You get completely wrapped up in the narrator's autism.
I found the father character for the most part unlikeable for what he has done regarding the dog and his ex-wife.

I recommend reading Born on a blue day by Daniel Tammet as a follow up.
It's a non fiction book where the author takes you into the world of his own autism and provides a lot insight into having the disease.
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Post Number:#6  Postby Moe » 19 Jan 2010, 16:49

I read this book so long ago I don't remember anything other than I liked it. I read another book that is similar but I think it was a much better book. It is called H by Elizabeth Shepard. The entire book is written in letters, from the main character, his mother, his psychiatrist and a camp counselor. It is a very short book and it is absolutely compelling. You can't put it down.

Here's the blurb:


H is for Elliot. Elliot is twelve-year-old Benjamin Sherman's best friend. To the counselors at the camp where he is spending his first summer, Benjamin is a "freaky kid" who shuns his peers and is strangely - and perhaps dangerously - attached to Elliot, his stuffed letter H. To his mother, Benjamin is an object of anxiety and pity. To his father, he's bizarre and embarrassing. To his psychiatrist, he is a case study in mental illness. This audacious and utterly unsentimental novel gives us a moving and sometimes shocking intimacy with a child whose disorder may be a kind of fragile genius. H is compelling, disturbing, and truthful in a single breath.
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Post Number:#7  Postby GwastenMica » 24 Jan 2010, 02:13

I read this book over the course of a day because I didn't want to put it down! I enjoyed feeling attached to this young man whose thought patterns were so different than mine. I did skim over much of his math descriptions. On the other hand I enjoyed his diagrams.

I thought it interesting that jdoug was unsympathetic to the father, when I felt the opposite. My heart bled for this man who had devoted his life to his son and was so totally shut out for a "lie." Granted, the killing of the dog was reason for Christopher to be afraid, but it wasn't what upset him, can I use the word emotionally? But, Father knew he had blown it when he told the original lie about the mother and then didn't know how to turn it around.

I must say I worked in the office of a pediatric neurologist who studied autism 20 years ago. Reading this book, I was amazed by the progress that has been made into understanding and meeting the needs of those afflicted.

Thanks for the suggestions on further reads along this line. I may look into those.

I recommended my daughter look into this book for her independent reading project for this semester in English. It would give her a great deal of fodder for project work!
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Post Number:#8  Postby foreverjuly » 28 Jan 2010, 23:18

I think people in this thread have made some great points about the narration, writing style, and the boy's character, which is really easy to relate to and understand even though his thought-process might seem so different.

My favorite aspect of this book was the morality that he employed throughout the book. Lies are terrible, horrible things that he can't understand, and even fiction is a lie because it's all made up, but then he delivers a white lie to the police officer in the station and is somehow ok with that. It makes for a very fine line that I found fascinating.

Does anyone else have any quirks that might be similar to his abhorrence for 4 cars of a certain color in a row or having his food touch?
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Post Number:#9  Postby sms84 » 31 Jan 2010, 15:24

I just finished this book a couple of days ago, and I overall I was very pleased.

Haddon's choice to write in the first person narrative of Chris was really intriguing. The disconnect it created- between Chris' mind and the events happening before him- was a large part of what made the read so interesting for me. I was very pleased that Haddon avoided making Chris a victim in any way. Certainly, he faces challenges, but never did I feel like the book was intentionally trying to evoke pity.

I agree with what some other people have said- I feel like a more definite conclusion could only have helped the book. The letter finding was a definite attention holder, and punctuating that with a stronger dose of reality could have really developed Chris even more as a character.

As it stands, I feel the characters of Mr. & Mrs. Shears could have been fleshed out more. I felt like we got more of a third person description of the latter than we actually heard or saw her. Actually, a lot of the supporting characters kind of suffered at the expense of the narrator. I felt that the mother acclimated entirely too quickly to having her child re-enter her life, and I think Mr. Shears came off really one note (if he felt a connection to and loved Chris' mother, why did he berate her constantly about her child?). The most formed secondary person is Chris' father, but even some of his action feels forced.

Overall I was satisfied, however. I'd give it a B.
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Post Number:#10  Postby Bookgeek » 11 Feb 2010, 12:54

I was diagnosed in 2005 with schitzo affective disorder, which is of course different than autism, but both share a common denominator in that they are cases of mental illness. Needless to say, I was eager to see how the author would handle this topic. It was a challenge that I felt he handled especially well.

For instance, Chris's tying in mood with certain colors (yellow, red and brown) was realistic. Before I got on medication to help clear up my thinking, I had similar delusions with colors. To me, this aspect of Chris's character lent a sense of credibility to the work. Also, speaking solely for myself, I know that I am comparable to Chris in that I can go off on tangents that make little or no sense to anyone else, using a sort of jaded logic that often fails to take the bigger picture into consideration. And lastly, the author did a great job in showing Chris's anxieties without making a mockery of him, humanizing Chris in such a way that I believe most would empathize with him.

I do, however, tend to agree with some of the other posters in regards to the ending. A tragedy, I believe, would have done something more for the piece. I think that was the book's biggest fault. Had it a sad ending with a touch of irony, I would give it an A. As it is, I give it a B+. The plot was well construed, and I NEVER would have guessed that it was Chris's father who had killed Wellington. I was a bit worried that the novel might read in an episodic nature in a few places, taking the reader down unnecessary rabbit trails, but you sort of had to expect a bit of that with an autistic first person narration. All in all, a very enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it to anyone!
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Post Number:#11  Postby BrittLovesBooks » 16 Feb 2010, 00:27

I am new to the forum, but this book, in my opinion, was great! I am a book seller and only got half way through the book before someone bought it from me :( I totally forgot the name and then came across this forum. Just ordered it on amazon :)

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Post Number:#12  Postby cheerio » 21 Feb 2010, 20:53

Excellent Book will probably re-read it again Image
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Post Number:#13  Postby morebooks4me » 23 Apr 2010, 14:19

I also agree that the ending was pretty boring. But I really loved the rest of the book.

I loved his perspectives on the train and I was so happy when he escaped the police officer. I was terrified when he was on the train tracks. I thought for sure he would be hit.

I also am curious what an experts opinion would be on whether or not this is an accurate depiction of how an autistic mind works. Sometimes the mathmatical equations and diagrams were a bit tedious and I started skipping them at the end. But I think they were somewhat necessary to get the point across.
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Post Number:#14  Postby SueB » 25 Apr 2010, 13:06

As a mother of a child with Autism and it being Aspergers as the charachter is in the book I thought it was very well written and I found myself seeing my son in a lot of things.
The plot and the way it was told was very typically autistic........I loved this book.

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Post Number:#15  Postby yannibookworm » 09 Jun 2010, 12:52

My cousin introduced me to this book but never had the chance to start it.
With all your comments, I will start this book the soonest.

Thanks! :)
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