Reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
I bought this book in the morning, but I only started reading it in the evening of the same day; -I opened it, smelled it and saw that it begins with the second chapter. Hm... Perhaps a badly bounded copy and they left the first chapter out? I turn a few pages and still I couldn't find the first chapter. Then I notice that a third chapter follows the second and a fifth chapter follows the third. And it occurs to me that the chapters are prime numbers.
"Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical, but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your life thinking about them." This is how Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old, explains why he's decided to use prime numbers for the chapters of his book. Christopher is not like any other boy, he's remarkably reflective, completely uninterested in girls, has in-depth knowledge of physics and mathematics, nearly perfect recall (memory) and often doesn't understand what people are trying to say. Although Christopher doesn't say it himself, the reader soon realizes that he's autistic. Christopher devises patterns according to which he sets his mood and chooses foods he likes, he doesn't like to be touched by other people and has difficulties deciphering meaning behind sentences. He needs a very structured, minute by minute schedule and he needs to check his watch constantly (to know what the time is) to feel safe.
Autists fascinate me, because things that seem easy and self-explanatory to us are incomprehensible to them. The following passage explains what I mean more fully: "But when you get married it is because you want to live together and have children, and if you get married in a church you have to promise that you will stay together until death do us part." Autists have problems detecting and expressing feelings (going beyond learned politeness) and their lives feel empty to us (reading the book, you are constantly reminded that there's something lacking). That's why autists have problems understanding normal conversations - a big part of what we say is marked by feelings and that is the part they're unable to receive and correctly decode. Autists thus understand words as they are, without the emotional connotation.
The lacking emotions are what the book manages to convey best. It's an interesting introspective into the life of an Asperger child, introducing to a wider audience the topic of autistic thinking. A lovely attempt with simple language and a whodunnit atmosphere; all in all a charming book - so short or so interesting you can read it in one sitting.
But not all is lost for Christopher, because he has devised a plan for his future, too; and mind you, he will do exactly as he says, because he never lies (again, people who don't have feelings lose the cause for lying).
"Then, when I've got a degree in Maths, or Physics, or Maths and Physics, I will be able to get a job and earn lots of money and I will be able to pay someone who can look after me and cook my meals and wash my clothes, or I will get a lady to marry me and be my wife and she can look after me so I can have company and not be on my own."