This is topic Recommendation and Question re The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=2;t=040608

Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
I hate audio books. I can't concentrate on them and invariably lose my place. However, I can whole-heartedly recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The narration is absolutely perfect - I think I got more out of the story than I would have from reading the book.

A desscription of the story:

Christopher Boone, the autistic 15-year-old narrator of this revelatory novel, relaxes by groaning and doing math problems in his head, eats red-but not yellow or brown-foods and screams when he is touched. Strange as he may seem, other people are far more of a conundrum to him, for he lacks the intuitive "theory of mind" by which most of us sense what's going on in other people's heads. When his neighbor's poodle is killed and Christopher is falsely accused of the crime, he decides that he will take a page from Sherlock Holmes (one of his favorite characters) and track down the killer. As the mystery leads him to the secrets of his parents' broken marriage and then into an odyssey to find his place in the world, he must fall back on deductive logic to navigate the emotional complexities of a social world that remains a closed book to him.
Does anyone who has read the book know how clinically accurate it is? Many of the externalities of the condition are things I know about, but is the author guessing at the reasons or is this the current theory on it? If it's based in theory, how confident are we in the theory?


[ January 09, 2006, 09:56 PM: Message edited by: Dagonee ]
Posted by Black Mage (Member # 5800) on :
I do not know how clinically accurate it is. However, I thought it was immeasurably cool that I'd finished reading Chaos right beforehand. He repeatedly mentions it and quotes examples from it throughout.
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
I've never done an audio book, but I did read this book, the old fashioned way, with my eyes. It struck me as a very sensitive rendering of the point of view of someone who is a high functioning autistic. And I do know folks diagnosed with Aspbergers and with Autism, and, while I haven't discussed the book with them, it did seem to catch their perspective.
Posted by SteveRogers (Member # 7130) on :
I've read the book. My mom and dad both did. My mom said that it was it was pretty true when it comes to how autistic people act. She has dealt with a number of them in the school setting, she teaches Special Services classes.

I couldn't tell you about the actual scientific part, though.
Posted by Scythrop (Member # 5731) on :
Dag -

I did quite a lot of work on this novel last year while preparing an in-service seminar for teachers and students in Melbourne who were about to study it as part of their VCE certificate course. There's a number of links on my website here that might be some use. Of particular interest I think are the two interviews with Haddon (links at bottom of page) where he discusses his research and motivations for writing the novel.

My understanding was that Haddon started from his basic story, and later fitted the character of Christopher to it, more as an effective storytelling tool, rather than as a device for exploring specific themes relating to theory of mind.

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but hopefully it's of some use.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
Good stuff. I'll go through it as I get a chance.

One example that sticks out is the reason for the covering the ears and groaning - in the book, it's said to block out sounds which are "overloading" the mind. Is that there anything that talks about whether that's really why some autistics do this?
Posted by Scythrop (Member # 5731) on :
I came across a number of theories, but as far as I know none of them definative. The one which springs most readily to mind is that some autistic / aspergers affected people lack the perceptional filters that most of us take for granted - they notice and sense everything that happens around them, and that 'groaning' is one way of coping with the resultant sensory overload.

it's also important to note though, that a number of the books and websites I looked at point out that aspergers particularly is a condition which manifests itself uniquely in every person effected by it; one person may resort to 'groaning' type behaviour when overloaded, another may simply go silent, a third may get violent - there's no hard and fast rule.

As a teacher (back in the old days) I taught a number of students with what was broadly classified as 'asperger's syndrome', but who all demonstrated markedly different behaviours when faced with similar social and emotional situations. The main consistency (and this is purely from personal observation) seemed to be an inability to filter all the information they were receiving, and to therefore try and process all of it.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
This book's in my "to be read" stack. I will move that up to be my next read. [Smile]
Posted by Lupus (Member # 6516) on :
Though, someone with an underdeveloped theory of mind, would make a very bad detective. Saying that you have an inability to understand other's thoughts is a bit of an understatement. While 'theory of mind' does refer to the ability to understand other's beliefs, it is also involves separating your beliefs from theirs. There is no putting yourself in someone elses shoes because you don't understand the difference between your shoes and theirs.
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
He handles that fairly well, Lupus. One of the interviews discusses how he gets around that. It's definitely worth reading even if it's inaccurate.

I keep hoping someone will write a companion like all those da Vinci Code companions, going through each bit and talking about the actual research on Aspergers. It'd be a very valuable book.

Oh, and it's got the best last sentence of a book ever.
Posted by imogen (Member # 5485) on :
I was about to say that Tony had done some work on it, and I'd get him to pop into this thread.

Too late! [Smile]
Posted by Eaquae Legit (Member # 3063) on :
I know less of the clinical stuff, but when I read the book, Christopher really hit home. He could have been any of the kids I work with, though none of him have the savant gifts he does. I was delighted and pleased to see how honestly he was written.

Anyway, that's my take on it. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Posted by Scythrop (Member # 5731) on :
Dag, Definately one of the best last sentences ever, though not as good as 'The Book Thief" by Markus Zuzak - don't know if that's even out in the states, yet, but it's one of the most intense last lines I've read in years. I won't spoil it by saying anything else.

It's not really a clinical analysis of the book, but the teacher's notes and speech I did on Curious Incident are available here and they include a fairly detailed praisee of the novel, going through in sections, though from a more literary bent - they're targeted at lit teachers and students, after all.

One of the sources I found very interesting reading in companion to 'Curious Incident' was Sack's 'The man who mistook his wife for a Hat...'. Reading his clinincal insights into human consciousness and disorder alongside Haddon's fictional ones provided a degree of insight into haddon's work that I found useful when approaching the novel.

Edit: Typo

[ January 10, 2006, 02:02 AM: Message edited by: Scythrop ]
Posted by imogen (Member # 5485) on :
(Hi Sweetie! [Wave] )
Posted by Scythrop (Member # 5731) on :
Hi gorgeous...

[/gratuitous thread hijacking for shameless flirting purposes] [Wink]
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Posted by Dagonee (Member # 5818) on :
Great links, Scythrop. Thanks. And you've added The Book Thief to my to-do list.

The way the last line is read on the audio version is very powerful.

And I think they're cute, mack. [Razz]

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2