Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.
Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.
And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator—the most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.
The is one of the freshest debuts in years—a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.
Mark Haddon, author of the international bestselling novel and , returns with a collection of unsparing short stories.
In the prize-winning story "The Gun," a man's life is marked by a single afternoon and a rusty.45; in "The Island," a mythical princess is abandoned on an island in the midst of war; in "The Boys Who Left Home to Learn Fear," a cadre of sheltered artistocrats sets out to find adventure in a foreign land and finds the gravest dangers among themselves. These are but some of the men and women who fill this searingly imaginative and emotionally taut collection of short stories by Mark Haddon, that weaves through time and space to showcase the author's incredible versatility.
Yet the collection achieves a sum that is greater than its parts, proving itself a meditation not only on isolation and loneliness but also on the tenuous and unseen connections that link individuals to each other, often despite themselves. In its titular story, the narrator describes with fluid precision a catastrophe that will collectively define its victims as much as it will disperse them — and brilliantly lays bare the reader's appetite for spectacle alongside its characters'. Cut with lean prose and drawing inventively from history, myth, fairy tales, and, above all, the deep well of empathy that made his three novels so compelling, reveals a previously unseen side of the celebrated author.
In explosive, highly charged, and hilarious middle-grade adventure from Mark Haddon, acclaimed author of . From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there’s an adventure on its way.
But what does “spudvetch” actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd’s eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they’re spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out.
There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one-hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way… with a BOOM!
As he demonstrated in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a canine murder mystery from the point of view of an autistic boy, former children's book author and illustrator Mark Haddon has a gift for reaching inside the inner world of characters whose minds should prove difficult to penetrate.
A Spot of Bother is Haddon's second novel aimed at adults, and again he writes his characters with great affection despite the fact that they're deeply flawed. Or, in the case of Bother's protagonist, George Hall, deeply insane.
The Halls are a family of people preoccupied with their own problems, largely centred around preparations for a backyard wedding. His daughter, Katie, is marrying a man no one, including Katie, thinks is good enough for her. Wife Jean is having an affair with one of George's former colleagues and struggling to plan the on-again, off-again wedding of her stubborn daughter. Son Jamie's reluctance to invite his boyfriend to Katie's wedding destroys that seemingly stable relationship.
Poor George finds his family falling apart and lacks the emotional tools to deal with the chaos head on. "Talking was, in George's opinion, overrated… The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely."
Newly retired George's own issues are an extreme example of the fretting the rest of his family – in fact, the rest of the world – exhibits. When he discovers a lesion on his hip, he leaps to the conclusion of cancer, and contemplates suicide. He gets caught up in the details of the how, discarding each method, including getting blind drunk and crashing the car – because what if he encountered another car?
"What if he killed them, paralyzed himself, and died of cancer in a wheelchair in prison?" George wonders.
The whimsical humour of the escalating hyperbole reveals a man who ponders the worst case scenario to an amusingly absurd degree. As the novel progresses, however, it becomes clear that this is no momentary flight of imagination or coping mechanism. George's insanity often escalates his worries beyond the point of reason.
The novel follows George's almost-logical reasoning. The spot could be more than eczema. The doctor didn't express himself with perfect certainty. He'd misdiagnosed Katie once. But George takes it several steps beyond reason.
Haddon doesn't inflict George with the cute insanity some fiction falls into, but the true-to-life confusion of being and dealing with someone who can seem no more odd than the average person on occasion, then lapses into genuine, over-the-top insanity.
A Spot of Bother is an often sweet, often heartbreaking story of a family falling apart and coming together. It's a deceptively funny, easy read with genuine poignancy. These compelling characters fumble their way through mental illness in the family the same way they fumble through their romantic relationships – sincerely, humorously, and ineptly.
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