Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Destiny or Coincidence by guest blogger Steven Head

I had not intended to do a review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In fact it was only whimsy that led me to listen to the audio-book version. While checking into another book I found this one. And while reading about teens is not my usual genre this one caught my attention.

But it was settled on Monday night when ABC's Rick Castle referenced 'the curious incident of the dog in the night-time' from Conan Doyle's The Silver Blaze. Too many coincidences not to be meaningful. The last time this type of thing happened was when two people put the same book in my hands within a 24 hour period.

Mark Haddon wrote "Curious Incident" and while the promo material identifies the main character, Christopher Boon, as a 15 year old with Asperger's Syndrome, Haddon dislikes the label. He prefers the description of an aspiring mathematician with behavioral problems. And Christopher has a box of problems including not wanting to be touched, not liking new places or people, not liking yellow or brown, not liking the different food items on his plate touching one another, and on and on.

Christopher is the narrator so the reader gets excellent insight into the thought process of this math whiz. We start with the discovery that Wellington, the neighbor woman's dog, has been killed. When a policeman arrives to investigate we follow along as Christopher goes from liking policemen to hitting the policeman to being taken to the police station. Being a fan of Conan Doyle, Christopher decides he needs to determine who killed Wellington, and in spite of his father's direct instructions forbidding it, he pursues his investigation.

Along the way we learn of Christopher's world, the special ed school he attends, the neighborhood, and his home life with father. All in an entertaining first-person storytelling style with plenty of internal dialogue and bits of science and math information along with his personal rules for living. I found myself smiling much of the time and even had a few LOL moments.

It should be no surprise that Christopher finds a reason to propel himself out of his comfortable world, exposing him to lots of new experiences with plenty of troubling interactions. But I don't want to spoil the pleasure of any potential reader/listener with unnecessary details.

I cannot say if this book is appropriate reading for teens or not. I recall reading 1984, Brave New World, and Catcher in the Rye at that age without too much permanent damage. Like most of the books I review there are adult situations and language.

Later this week I'm off to a stage performance of "The Inferno" and hope to have a report for you next week. Keep turning those pages until then.

*****Thanks Steve. I caught that reference on "Castle" also, and planned to check out the Conon Doyle Piece. As far as "Castle" goes, it is the only show on my must-see list...even the re-runs. Very clever plots lead me down the wrong path each week, and when I am sure I can outwit Castle and Becket, they mix things up enough to throw off my game.

*****Last week, I had a chance to spend some time with my old friend Julie Lindemann, co-author of Season's Gleamings, the little pink book paying homage to aluminum Christmas trees. I hadn't been in her studio or seen her personal art collection in a while and I was so fascinated, and spend so much time roaming, looking, oohing, aahing, and asking questions that Julie had to politelyusher me to the door so she and John could get back to work. They are finishing up a project commissioned by Kohler. The exhibit, which follows the progress of several cancer patients, will open at the Kohler Art Gallery in December. Both Julie and John are up for tenure at Lawrence University in Appleton. Good for them.
Julie's sister, Heidi, and I also had some catch up time last week, She works as an administrative assistant at George Washington University, where (it's a week of coincidences!) friend and former employee, Jacque, attends law school.

Are you ready for yet another coincidence? Heidi is married a man named Michael Perry...her sister Julie does the cover photography for our Mike Perry's books. Heidi and her Michael are swamis. Yup, you read that right. They are ordained to practice and performs spiritual rites grounded in Eastern philosophies. They teach meditation classes, perform rites of passage ceremonies, and live happy lives. They will be in the area to visit family in the summer and Heidi plans to hold an event here.

***On the book front...I own Keith Richards a small apology for my premature review of his book, Life. More next week...maybe.

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