Have you ever read something that had such a profound impact on you, that it caused you to sit back and think?
I had that feeling after finishing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon on Saturday afternoon. Assigned through my creative writing and reading group that meets every week, we had been reading the book and discussing it for the last few weeks until its conclusion; and I have to say that I’m extremely happy that I read it because of the main protagonist Christopher, who is largely an unsung perspective in fiction.
Christopher is autistic (specifically diagnosed with Aspergers) and with that knowledge comes a difference in narrative that will have you reconsidering the personal prejudices that you didn’t realize that you had. Is he a bit different from what society would generally consider ‘normal?’ Yes, but does that make him unable to handle the same situations that we face on a day-to-day basis? Not at all. It simply means that his perspective is different and that he responds to the world around him in an alternative fashion.
I remember speaking on the need for diversity in science fiction and fantasy all the way back in my Word Vomit series (Word Vomit #10 to be exact). I didn’t realize until closing this book that my thinking was too limited. Diversity in overall fiction in general is needed. Within the last few years, autism has become a subject I’ve learned much more about and is important to me due to family; and due to my direct experience with it, I became a reference point for the other people in my reading and writing group who had questions on direct behavior described in the book that I had interacted with directly. Something that I initially took for granted but soon learned the importance of. We are all reference points in some capacity to experiences other will never see.
Avoiding spoilers, this book is told from Christopher’s viewpoint and provides such a literal look into the mind of someone highly functioning, yet still at odds with the world around him. He is incredibly intelligent, able to perform complex mathematical computations in his head, yet faces interesting quirks such as his adversity with the color yellow. Peculiarities such as this sound strange but make more sense as you continue to read with an open mind; and even more as you begin to see that this work of fiction contains very realistic characters such as his parents, who try their hardest to ensure the best life for Chris but fall prey to very real pitfalls.
Bottom line, I love reading something different. This definitely scratched that itch and resonated with me in a very personal way. I would whole-heartedly recommend the book to those who can relate to the experiences encountered within the pages and even to readers who simply want to engage in a heartfelt but sad, hopeful, yet realistic story.
Until next time.