- Writer Unboxed - https://writerunboxed.com -

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting [1]It’s raining cats [2] and dogs [3] (well, okay, and hobbits [4]) here this week at Writer Unboxed, so I thought I’d continue that trend today.

It may have been a coincidence that I finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time [5] and almost immediately went out and bought myself a puppy – or maybe it wasn’t. One thing’s for certain: that was one fabulous book. I’ve already done a little research into getting author Mark Haddon for an interview, but his website [6]states he’s had to put a hold on that for a while, so I’ll chat up his story a little instead.

First, if you’re looking for an Unboxed Read, you must, must, must read this book. Haddon hooks from page one and for several reasons. Here’s the first line:

It was 7 minutes after midnight.

Okay, it’s nighttime; what’s going on? I’m also curious as to why Haddon wrote “7” as a digit instead of spelling it out. And why does the book start with chapter 2, then move on to 3,5,7 and 11? Is there missing information? Did Haddon tell the story out of sequence ala Niffenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife [7]?

As you learn fairly early on, the story is told as it is because that’s how Haddon’s 15-year-old autistic protagonist, who loves prime numbers, would write a book. And this book is told exclusively from Christopher’s uniquely fascinating POV.

Here’s a good story synopsis from Haddon’s agent’s site:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s, a form of autism. He knows a great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.

I was fascinated by Haddon’s adept handling of Christopher’s character growth throughout the book. This protagonist doesn’t experience emotion in the way “normal” people do. He’s very logical, a full-throttled left-brain person, and when life throws something hugely unexpected at him, he becomes mentally agitated and then handles it in the Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting [1]only way he can – analytically. Christopher’s high-stakes stew of logic and emotion doesn’t necessarily lead him to make the best decisions, but there is no doubt that you will root for him 100% as he journeys to unveil truth and find a safe haven for himself and his pet.

Curious Incident has been praised high and low by everyone – The New York Times, The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Newsday and others. It was named the Whitbread Book of the Year and was named a New York Times Notable Book. It’s been called “flawlessly imagined,” “heartbreaking and inspiring,” “a triumph of emphathy,” “a superb achievement,” “gloriously eccentric and wonderfully intelligent,” “clever and observant,” “brilliant…very moving,” “smart, honest and wrenching,” “fierce and ingenious.”

It really is all of that and more.

I’m not surprised that Hollywood came a-knocking [8] for rights to this story, though I’m skeptical as to how it’ll turn out, even with Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves on the job. Will Kloves be able to put us in Christopher’s POV properly? Will he wring empathy from us the way Haddon did so well? If done right, this story could be the next Academy Award winner. It’s that good.

Now go and read the book!

About Therese Walsh [9]

Therese Walsh co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [10], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [11] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [12], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and Book Riot; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [13] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [14] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [15]). Learn more on her website [16].