Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#4: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

The February selection for the “Reading with Jacqs” project was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The book is basically a mystery narrated by a young English boy, Christopher, who is a highly functioning autistic. The mystery begins with the death of a dog, Wellington, that our narrator finds with a lawn fork stuck in him. His search for the cause of the dog’s death leads to the instruction by his aggressive father to “stop sticking your nose in other people’s business.” Christopher decides to write a book detailing his search for answers. When his father trashes the manuscript as a punishment for Christopher’s persistent search for the dog’s murderer, the search for his prized notebook leads to an unexpected discovery that shapes the course of the rest of Christopher’s adventures.

Mark Haddon eloquently expresses the quirkiness of an autistic boy and takes the reader deep into the inner-workings of the mind. Every detail of the book — including the numbering system used for the book’s chapters — are designed to paint a clearer portrait of our main character. At times difficult to process because of the tangents Haddon’s writing includes, it quickly becomes clear that we are seeing the world through the eyes of the disorder. What I found most intriguing is that the novel is not about the disorder; autism is simply a fact of Christopher’s life that partially defines him. Although I don’t normally read mysteries, I found myself immersed in the tale of Christopher, his family relationships, and the curious incident that links them all together.

What’s next on my reading list? I’ve just begun Trevanian’s The Crazyladies of Pearl Street. I’m hoping to make a nice dent in it during tomorrow’s snow day from school.

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#3: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (Wells Tower)

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is the debut collection of short stories by the American author, Wells Tower. I was thrilled to see a brand new voice included on “My Library Shelf” project. However, reviewing a collection of unrelated stories can be challenging.

The theme of familial relationships united many of the stories in Everything Ravaged. Sometimes the families were traditional; others were groups with common bonds that made them like family. Almost without fail, the families described would be classified as dysfunctional. A teenage girl preparing for a tryst with a man older than her father. A boy is sexually molested in a carnival bathroom while his father is on a blind date. A pre-teen boy pretends to pass out in the driveway due to the exertion caused by walking to the mailbox; his charade leads to the intervention of the police.

Tower’s stories are enjoyable pieces for the most part, although they left this reader a bit unfulfilled with each conclusion. The issue for me was not that things were left unresolved; consistently, the story just seemed to end abruptly. There was no ambiguity to be considered. There was no image that was burned into the mind’s eye. After reading the final story, I admitted that they were nicely told….but I wouldn’t say they made a tremendous impact on the audience. They were simply stories — in the most basic sense of the word.

I read the collection. I wouldn’t be opposed to reading Tower’s future works. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned did not inspire me to actively seek out the author’s periodical publications. I’m left a little uninspired to say the least.

What’s coming up for me? I’ve got several books in the active stack at the moment.

  1. The Crazyladies of Pearl Street – Trevanian
  2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  3. Menahem Pressler: Artistry in Piano Teaching – William Brown
  4. Mendelssohn: A Life in Music – R. Larry Todd

With that stack of books, I suppose I should get my glasses on and get to work.

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