May 05, 2006

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

I've just read a book that is (among several others) under consideration for next year's FP: Michael Haddon's the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. An incredibly easy read, and just 226 pages including the proof at the end, it took me a total elapsed time of maybe three or four hours to read it today. It's about... well, its protagonist is an autistic teenager. I'm still trying to decide what it's about.

My inclination for much of the book was to wonder why anyone had ever suggested it for FP, whose main theme is making choices. As I finished it off, though, I started to envision a few angles for discussion, along the lines of the sacrifices various other characters make on Christopher's behalf. Perhaps even Christopher himself; it feels like he's just swept along, but he's doing a lot of his own thinking. And for all that he comes across as barely functional at times, he believably manages a few things rather better than some "normals" that I can think of.

I do recommend the book as an interesting and light-but-serious read. The trick in bringing it into FP will be in conveying a sense of relevance. Why should a non-autistic 18-year-old care or identify with any of the characters in this novel, after all? What it could do is initiate some interesting conversations about unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) responsibilities. Christopher's parents didn't ask for an autistic son, but when one came along, they did their imperfect best. Sacrifices both explicit and implicit come along with some regularity, but they choose to bear up under the responsibility as best they can.

I dunno. I think I could manage to teach it, but I'm not sure I'd pick it as a first choice. On to another one from the proposed reading list....

"Masturbation is a normal part of human sexuality and about the safest sex there is. You won't contract any sexually transmitted diseases or cause an unintended pregnancy, and you don't have to worry about performance anxiety or ever leaving your partner unsatisfied. And really, there's no need not to respect yourself in the morning, unless you didn't respect yourself before." --SDSTAFF Jill, The Straight Dope

Posted by blahedo at 2:40am on 5 May 2006
Er, what's FP? Posted by Greg at 9:25am on 5 May 2006
"Freshman preceptorial". It's the seminar all our freshmen take their first term here, taught by faculty from all departments. Posted by blahedo at 10:42am on 5 May 2006
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