s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: Book: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Book: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Every time I read a book or an article about autism, I come away thinking I’m autistic. It’s all so familiar: the difficulty in social situations, the calm of being alone, the fascination with patterns. (Of course, whenever I read The Joy Luck Club, I think I’m Chinese, and whenever I read Watership Down, I think I’m a rabbit.)

Mark Haddon’s book was hot stuff when it came out, two years ago, but I’ve only just gotten around to reading it. (You don’t get around to bestsellers right away when you prefer checking them out at the library to buying them.) I thought it would be interesting to read a novel with a narrator who’s autistic and I wondered if the gimmick would live up to the hype.

Even if there were 50 other novels with autistic narrators, this would still be a really good book. The mystery aspect is compelling (even if the “murder” is solved halfway through) and Haddon pulls off the amazing trick of making you care more about the narrator than he does about himself. I was worried that some of the larger issues in the story wouldn’t be resolved by the end, but I came away very satisfied. The book is highly recommended (and short).

(Also, I have to add that I feel smug for knowing how to pronounce “Siobhan.”)


At August 09, 2006 3:57 PM, Blogger bawb said...

Hahahahaha. What a great introduction.

At August 09, 2006 5:31 PM, Blogger Th. said...


It was a good book, wasn't it? But I'm afraid I bought it....

At August 09, 2006 7:13 PM, Blogger Tolkien Boy said...

And here I thought I was the only one with that problem. I couldn't stop hopping for a week.

At August 10, 2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Lindsay said...

So...how do you pronounce "Siobhan"?

Sounds like a very interesting book.

At August 10, 2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Katya said...

Lindsay - Finally, someone asks! {bh} sounds like /v/ and {si} sounds like /sh/ or /zh/, so the name's pronounced /zhi 'vahn/, roughly. (The vowel in that first syllable ought to be a schwa, but it won't let me post one.)

At August 11, 2006 8:53 AM, Blogger Lindsay said...

Hey thanks. Now I can add Siobhan to my list of names I can now pronounce. (Others in the list: Sinnead, Seamus, Aisling, and Gruffydd.)

At August 12, 2006 7:45 PM, Blogger Melyngoch said...

Actually, reading that book really made me think of you. Not that I think you're autistic. Just that you find predictable system calming.

At August 14, 2006 8:40 PM, Blogger Th. said...


Whenever I walk by one of the yarn stores here I think of you. (Skein Lane is going out of business! Big sale! Act now!)

Will you be posting the talk Melyns is plugging?

Um, how are you?


At August 14, 2006 10:51 PM, Blogger Katya said...

th. -

1. A yarn sale?! Oooh, exciting!

2. I hadn't thought to post the talk, but now I probably will.

3. I'm doing well. School starts next week, so I'm going to be busy, again. For now, I'm just enjoying the rest of the summer. (And I'm very happy now that the nasty heat wave is over.)

At August 15, 2006 1:48 AM, Blogger Th. said...


And I always thought that it was an Indian name. Phooey.

Which reminds me, oh Russian-speaing librarian:

I learned yesterday that hooey is quite the vulgar little word in Russian and I wonder if the expression "That's a load of hooey!" was picked up from Russian sailors.

But no one has bought me my OED yet.

Do you know?

At August 15, 2006 1:50 AM, Blogger Th. said...



And since I may not be online again this week: Happy Blogday.

At August 15, 2006 6:51 PM, Blogger Katya said...

Th. - The online OED says that "hooey" is U.S. slang, and that its origin is unknown. I can't find the Russian word in my pocket dictionary, but even if I was sure how to spell it, Langenscheidt is probably far too polite to include such language.

My guess is that the same word arose independently in both languages; it strikes me as onomatopoietic enough to mean roughly the same thing in both cases, although with differing intensities. (Now I have a mind to find a dictionary of Russian slang to see if I can track it down from that side.)

Thanks for the happy wishes! I wasn't even keeping track of my blogday, although I remembered my Illinoisversary.

At August 15, 2006 7:02 PM, Blogger Katya said...

Th. - OK, Langenscheidt let me down but multitran didn't. Yep, the Russian version is pretty crude. I couldn't find any other inflected forms, though, so I don't know what the etymology is on that side, either. But I still don't think that the two are related.


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