Sometimes you buy a present for someone that you really end up enjoying yourself. This Christmas, the surprise shared gift was a copy of Mark Haddon‘s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. I picked it up for Sally without having kept up with why it was supposed to be good, but every fiction writer on my Warren Wilson College writers alum list had picked the book as one of their favs so I added it to the gift bag on a whim. Haddon has had a career as a children’s writer, but this book in the voice of a boy with Asperger’s syndrome who discovers a murdered poodle and sets out Holmes-like to solve the crime. Like Roddy Doyle’s wonderful “Paddy Clarke Ha Ha,” the voice is convincing and unique and compelling. In fact, I found myself making comparisons to Doyle’s writing as I read “Dog.” Not that the boys who narrated the novels had that much in common. Doyle’s Paddy is a common tough 10 year old from Barrytown; Haddon’s Christopher is a unique traveller in an unsual (to him) world. Doyle is clearly the better writer — less artifice, more direct to the heart action –, but Haddon has the line on the world in which Christopher lives right down to the difficult math that gives him strength to go on. I don’t mean to go into a full book review, but I can say that Sally picked up the book and didn’t stop reading til she finished several hours later. I took the book and read past midnight before I finished it.
I was inspired to google for “Sherlock Holmes autism” which showed me that more people than I had a feeling that Holmes himself may have been modeled on someone with Asperger’s and not just some one hooked on the famous 7% solution of cocaine.