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.
Tucker and I took a break from extracting the DNA out of dried peas to go see “Limony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events”. It was not completely an unfortunate event, but if you have read and loved the books as we have you will not be impressed. The movie is a Jim Carrey fest and for that it is a fine film including an uncredited cameo by Dustin Hoffman. But it in no way measures up to the intricate slyly revealing multi-layered plots of the books. The books are puzzle pieces of their own; the film both shows too little and too much. What is funny, campy yet gloomy in the books becomes merely depressing in the movie despite the beautiful design throughout. Take your movie money and buy some dried peas, dish soap, 91% alcohol, and meat tenderizer and extract some DNA instead. Take what money you have left and buy the books.
Extra: Roger Ebert uses Wikipedia as a trusted source in his review of this movie.