“Sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret.”
Mark Hadden, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the story of Christopher Boone. A 15-year old boy with an autism spectrum condition, Christopher struggles to cope with the outside world. One night he finds his neighbour’s dog dead, a garden fork sticking out of its body, and from there a whirlwind of investigation and adventure awaits.
The innocence of Christopher all the way through the story had me torn. I have to admit (and I’m ashamed to say so) that I sometimes found it hard to sympathise with his actions when he was put in situations that he found uncomfortable, that most people experience on a day to day basis. What this story allowed me to do was to take a step back and try to understand Christopher, and others like him.
Having experienced issues surrounding mental health both personally, and with friends and family, I understood when Christopher would find himself feeling anxious about certain events. However, having never spent time with anyone with autism, I had limited knowledge on just how big of a barrier the condition really is.
One of my favourite concepts of the book is Christopher’s love of the tales of Sherlock Holmes but his inane dislike for its creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As an avid book reader, I myself have had experience of insanely loving a book I’ve read, but having a feeling of dislike for the person who wrote it. In similarity to Christopher, this is mostly due to some of the archaic beliefs or feelings that the author may hold (in Christopher’s case it was Conan Doyle’s belief of the supernatural).
It was actually only after reading into the background of the novel post-finishing that I realised just how many Conan Doyle references Mark Haddon had managed to slip into his book – the title itself a reference to one of Doyle’s short stories.
I think the greatest thing about this novel is that everyone has a little bit of Christopher Boone in them. Now I’m not saying we all have autism, that would be a bold statement. But we all have quirks. Whether it’s our love for numbers, the odd food choices we make, or even the obsession we have over uncovering the truth about our neighbour’s dead dog. Curious Incident truly celebrates Christopher’s quirks, and I think that’s something that we forget to do with ourselves.
In June of last year, I remember watching as 26-year old Alex Sharp was presented with the Tony Award for Best Actor in Play for his portrayal as Christopher Boone in the Broadway production of Curious Incident. From that moment, having seen just a short sequence of the production in the awards reel, I was determined that I was going to see the theatre production.
Well, lucky for me, in 2017 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will be touring the theatres of the UK! I have wrangled a few friends to tag along, but even though it’s still so far off, I’m incredibly excited to see this production.