Friday, February 18, 2005

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

Confession time: When I bought the book from the roadside vendor along with The Broker, I had no clue what is this book about. But I remembered reading about how good it was or someone having recommended it highly. The cover read "Winner : Whitbread book of the year" and the graphics were kinda abstract and funny! I thought, rather assumed, it will be another light/comedy book.

The first thing I noticed when I started to read was the unusual chapter numbers (It has chapters listed by prime numbers!). At first I thought I got a damaged copy with the first chapter missing (Note: 1 is neither prime, nor composite :) ). Many misconceptions about the book (and my copy) were lifted as I dug deeper into the book.

As a matter of fact, although the book is not a comedy, its very interesting nonetheless! Its about Christopher, who is a special kid (I always thought calling someone special is just euphemism for retarded, but he is certainly not retarded! He is indeed special kid!). He has a photographic memory (My memory is like a film….And when people ask me to remember something I can simply press Rewind and Fast Forward and Pause like on a video recorder….If someone says to me, 'Christopher, tell me what your mother was like,' I can rewind to lots of different scenes and say what she was like in those scenes.). He never lies (A lie is when you say something happened which didn't happen. But there is only one thing which happened at a particular time and a particular place. And there are infinite number of things which didn't happen at that time and that place. And if I think about something which didn't happen I start thinking about all the other things which didn't happen.). He has nutured his own simple philosophical thinking (I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and their things into rubbish.). He is intelligent enough to score an 'A' on 'A' level math. He is also a walking encyclopedia, he can talk about various topics under the sun, varying from types of heart attacks to black holes to molecules to species of monkeys. He keenly observes his surroundings, contrary to the grazing "normal" people do. Sometimes, just because of this, he can't handle too much information at once. He normally avoids crowded places as he can't take all the information coming into his brain. In such situations, he kneels down and starts groaning (to cut off the noise!). He thinks of it just like pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL on his computer (this is a metaphor, he can differentiate between a metaphor and a simile, but can't understand similes :) ).

The adventure starts when his teacher at his (special) school encourages him to write a book. As he can't lie, he thinks of writing a book from what he observes. He wants to write a murder mystery (his favorite book is The hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). He starts to write a book on the murder of a dog in the neighbourhood. When his teacher tells him that no one cares much if the dog is dead, he argues that two hounds were murdered in The hound of Baskervilles :)! He starts to investigate this murder, much against his father's wishes and in the process he unveils some very important realities about his own life!

The charcter I hold in very high regard is Christopher's father, Ed. He is really patient with Christopher. Ed's wife has left him because it was too painful for her to take care of Christopher. Ed gets really heart-broken when Christopher also runs away from home. It's really heart-rending to see how hard he tries to win his son's trust back. His situation is kind of hopeless and somewhat depressing.

It's the first novel for Hadden and indeed an extra-ordinary effort on his behalf. I recommend this book highly to all readers! Welcome to the curious world of Christopher.

Favorite quote from book: Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spend all your time thinking about them.

1 comment:

Poxy said...

Thank you so much for lending me this book to read...its up on my list of all-time good reads ! :)