Thursday, February 10, 2005

Poor, dead doggie. (A half-assed review of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)

Listen, there's nothing all that terribly wrong with this book, but boy is it overhyped! I can only assume that because it falls in the genre of touching-stories-involving-protagonist-with-disability that this is one of those book club fictions that I don't usually read. (What's the slang equivalent for "chick flick" in the literary world?)

I suppose on one level it's an interesting question—exactly what would the literary voice of an autistic teenager sound like? On another level, it's also something of a (perhaps unitentional and unwelcome) verfremdungseffekt. After all, when you're constantly being reminded that the narrator is autistic, it becomes a kind of internal rule for the prose that your mind is always testing against.

Well, my mind was always testing against it, at least. Things like...Why are there no grammar or syntax errors? Oh, we get an explanation for that about a third of the way in. Check. Or how about when the protagonist says that he is unable to imagine things that aren't true, but then he imagines that he is an astronaut. Is that a mistake, or a point about the contradictions in the thinking of the autistic character? Oh, wait a second, I was just reading a story before I got distracted.

I like my light reading with a fewer tests of its internal verisimilitude, I suppose.

In the end, The Curious Incident...seems a little too trite, a little too tidy, a little too prepackaged as a made-for-TV movie.

Hey, a lot of people really like those made-for-TV movies. If you do, I have a copy I'll sell you for a good price.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, i think the book sucked too. i wasnt really interestest in the kid or the dead dog.
Great review!!!!!

2:25 AM  

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