Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

It was 7 minutes after midnight.

This is how chapter 2 begins. There is no chapter 1; so, so far that is the only curious thing about this opening and the only question. What happened to chapter 1? Has it been held over? Will the reader have to search for it?

The opening line itself is nothing to write home about. It gives us a time. It does not tell us where, what, who or why. Next line:

The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears' house. 

Here is a who and where and what - still no why. Half way down this rather long first paragraph we learn that the dog is dead with a garden fork sticking into it, and by the end of the paragraph we learn that this story is a first person narrative. So the mystery begins very earlier, though I would have incorporated the dead dog in the first sentence. But when we start to learn a little about the narrator and his special needs, I suppose it is logical to think he might start off by telling the time.

First thing said:

"What the ****'s name have you done with my dog?"

For a novel labelled as a children's book and having won some children's award, there is a lot of swearing. Perhaps I'm a prude or maybe kids today are so much more sophisticated than in bygone days.

By chapter 19 we learn what happens to chapter 1. This narrator is naming his chapters after the prime numbers, so the first is chapter 2.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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