Sunday, April 24, 2005

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

A week and a half ago, I showed up to yoga a few minutes late, and as I peered in the door, I saw that Maureen wasn't there; there was a sub. Mortified by the prospect of doing yoga with anyone else, I quietly snuck away to drown my sorrows at Barnes and Noble. I spent almost two hours browsing and bought four books:

The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish
Chasing Vermeer
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

And since Anne Frank is boring me with her "Mummy is so mean" crap, I decided to start a new book this morning.

The curious incident is a story told by a fifteen-year-old autistic boy. One day he finds his neighbor's dog with a garden fork sticking out of it, dead. He decides to investigate to find who killed the dog, and ends up finding out that his mother isn't really dead, as his father had said. And the story goes on from there.

What's really interesting about the book is that there are intermittent discussions of advanced logic, math, and physics, such as The Monty Hall Problem or population dynamics or The Case of the Cottingley Fairies. He explains the problems and answers so clearly and simply, it's great.

At the same time, he's remarkably deficient in social skills, and this is apparent from his interactions with people and through stories. My favorite part is when he lists his behavioral problems (lettered A through R), which include:

D. Screaming when I am angry or confused
G. Groaning
N. Doing stupid things
P. Hating France
R. Getting cross when someone has moved the furniture.

These are appended with footnotes, explaining, such as:

Stupid things are things like emptying a jar of peanut butter onto the table in the kitchen and making it level with a knife so it covers all the table right to the edges, or burning things on the gas stove to see what happened to them, like my shoes or silver foil or sugar.

It's quirky, but not annoyingly so. It's exciting, but not action. I finished it in a day, and I don't do that. It's good.


  1. One of my favourite books from last year! I'm glad it passed the Erica muster. A much better mystery than Vermeer, actually. :-)

  2. Erica, you get so many thumbs up. Not in uncomfortable places, but in support of your lovely book-buying. You're the best hedgehog EVOR. Sure you don't want a master's in Children's Lit?

    (Not that The Curious Incident has been smushed into the Ch. Lit. category so firmly...)

  3. An honorary degree would be lovely, but are you sure some of those comfortably placed thumbs aren't cancelled out by the Sisterhood book? I hate to point out that this is the *second* in the series, implying that I've already read the first... which is becoming a movie this summer...

  4. Hey, it ain't The Princess Diaries. You're good.

  5. I read and enjoyed all three Sisterhood books and I'm a huge snob, so no problem.

    Will. Not. Touch. Princess Diaries.

  6. It's good to know where to draw the line.