Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Do I Love This Book?

There are a few books that I seem to be able to read many times and feel engaged and rewarded each time. One of these is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a novel by Mark Haddon. It's a curious book, a detective story of sorts, written from the point of view of Christopher, a 15 year old English boy who has a form of autism or perhaps asperger syndrome. He is extremely high-functioning in the areas of math, logic, science, and use of language. But his ability to understand and relate to people and emotions is quite limited. He generally prefers animals, because their reactions and emotions seem easier to understand than those of people, and they can't lie to you. Christopher is very logical about some things and seemingly very superstitious about others. Some of his behavior is rather bizarre and not very nice - yet for all this he's an extremely engaging and sympathetic character, and you get to see the world very clearly through his eyes. It's really a fascinating book that works on many levels, and I highly recommend it. I won't spoil it by revealing plot details - you can find plenty of reviews and summaries on Google or Amazon if you care to.

But why do I like it so much? I think it's because I relate more strongly to this character than I do to most fictional characters. I even feel a little bit like him in some ways (and not only because he wants to be an astronaut, even though he realizes that this is extremely unlikely for many reasons). I think it's something about the way he detaches himself from emotions and complicated human situations (or tries to). I see myself doing this sometimes. And also something about the way people don't understand him (but who hasn't felt that way sometimes?). I also like the way he makes and values certain observations that most people wouldn't make or value (a bit of the scientific or engineering mind there). I don't know. But I really like Christopher Boone and the chance to view of the world through his fictional but very real-seeming eyes.

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