Mark Haddon (no significant spoillers)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Feb 15 17:21:42 EST 2004


A couple of weeks ago Charlie and Jon were more or less in agreement about
thinking *The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time* was

Charlie:
>> very well done, very clever, very engaging.

and Jon:

>I found it a very easy read

I read it this afternoon (there was a copy there, and I was letting someone
I had given a lift to a place have her hostess' attention all to herself).
I wasn't all that struck.  Given the options I had available, that or a
stack of old magazines mostly about rebuilding one's house and improving
it, I'd probably make the same choice again, but it would be a toss-up: I'm
quite interested in the idea of building a bread-oven.

I was reminded of Molesworth (but without the humour): somebody doing a
good job of presenting a persona it can be assumed the reader is not but is
familiar with to some extent, or at least has come across in passing.  And
I was reminded of "Flowers for Algernon", slightly, but without the
appalling, tragic and wonderful point that story had to make.

My feeling was simply that TCIOTDITNT didn't *go* anywhere, nor take me
anywhere much.  I mean, things got discovered and learnt and achieved, but
it didn't seem to have led to anything in particular.  I came off the last
page with the words "Author's Message" hammering in my brain (with
curlicues taking over the screen like the bit in the film *What's New
Pussycat?*) on account of the last paragraph or so -- well, hey, that is
just a bit laid on with a trowel, thought I to myself -- and a general
notion about some bits of it that the author had done his research on a
particular form of what is called autism competently.[1]  Not wanting to
spoiler I shan't specify except to say that at least some of the
circumstances would be enough to upset anyone whether autistic or not, and
that the way of dealing with them (more or less dealing with them,
sometimes less) seemed reasonable given the character of the protagonist.

The lady whose (borrowed) copy I had been reading told me when I surfaced
that Elizabeth Moon in *Speed of Dark* made a better job of writing
first-person-autistic, as far as *she* was concerned.  Anyone on the list
have any view on that?  I've been told it was written from the position of
having a lot of experience of living with someone autistic, and have been
meaning to read it when I got the chance, but so far a copy hasn't happened
to come my way.  Is it worth seeking one out, anyone?

[1]Oh, and a near-certainty that if this book gives a fair picture of a
form of autism, if Nikola Tesla wasn't classified as autistic it was only
because the term hadn't been invented in time (autism doesn't get listed in
any of the dictionaries in this house pre-dating 1988, a bit late for
Tesla).  As it was they simply called him "eccentric", I think.

Minnow


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