Chapter 4

This is a murder mystery novel.

Siobhan said that I should write something I would want to read myself. Mostly I read books about science and maths. I do not like proper novels. In proper novels people say things like, "I am veined with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud. I cannot contract into the firm fist which those clench who do not depend on stimulus." What does this mean? I do not know. Nor does Father. Nor does Siobhan or Mr. Jeavons. I have asked them.

I notice we have both "maths" and "meters".

I actually quite enjoy "proper novels", but only the ones that are good (i.e. not this one). I don't know what he's got against them. Not all of them have totally opaque passages like the one there. I looked at it in context on Google Books, and it didn't make any more sense that way. Maybe I'd have to read the whole book to get what it was about.

The quoted passage has this footnote: "I found this in a book when Mother took me into the library in town in 1996." I don't know what it's doing there. It doesn't tell me where the quote is from or add useful information. I did find the quote, though: it's from page 74 of The Waves by Virginia Woolf. It's a misquote. What it actually says is "Veined as I am with iron, with silver and with streaks of common mud, I cannot contract into the firm fist which those clench who do not depend on stimulus".

Siobhan has long blond hair and wears glasses which are made of green plastic. And Mr. Jeavons smells of soap and wears brown shoes that have approximately 60 circular holes in each of them.

Why are there so many holes in his shoes? At least it's approximately 60 rather than another impossibly certain number. On the other hand, I don't know why the sentence begins with "and". The prose is kind of annoying. Christopher seems to be averse to punctuation and overly fond of long sentences and sentence fragments, and his word choice is simplistic. Limited, childish vocabulary is exactly the opposite of how he should be writing: one of the symptoms is formal and pedantic speech. I know I'm like that to an extent. I know it's a YA novel and YA is supposed to have simpler vocabulary, but come on.

I wonder what kind of soap Mr. Jeavons smells like.

So, even though Christopher dislikes novels in general, he likes murder mysteries, which is why he's writing this book. Unfortunately for him, it's not really a murder mystery -- it's a deep insight into his wonderful autistic mind. He thinks he's writing this to tell the story of Wellington's murder, but he's actually doing it because Haddon wanted to show how his mind works and how he experiences the world. Maybe he wonders why he keeps talking about his oddities so much if the book isn't really about him.


In a murder mystery novel someone has to work out who the murderer is and then catch them. It is a puzzle. If it is a good puzzle you can sometimes work out the answer before the end of the book.

We need more commas in here. I'd put them after "novel" and "puzzle".

I'm annoyed by the mention of puzzles due to their use as a symbol of autism, which some consider offensive for various reasons (though I don't have a strong opinion). It probably wasn't intentional, but seeing a symbol of autism pop up in a book about autism seems a little weird.

The "good puzzle" he describes is called a fair-play whodunnit, by the way.

Siobhan said that the book should begin with something to grab people's attention. That is why I started with the dog. I also started with the dog because it happened to me and I find it hard to imagine things which did not happen to me.

Hey, I thought we were supposed to have vivid imaginations. I haven't had much trouble imagining the fictional situations I've written or read about, but maybe that's just me. I guess this is the reason he doesn't like novels.

Siobhan read the first page and said that it was different. She put this word into inverted commas by making the wiggly quotation with her first and second fingers.

That's a long-winded way of saying she made air quotes. Do the British not use that phrase, or is Christopher ignorant of it because he's "different"? I also don't know why she made air quotes at all.

Siobhan's reason for calling the book "different" is that a dog is the murder victim instead of a human. Christopher mentions (mentioned, really; this is a flashback) the dogs that were killed in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is bolded as well as italicized, but Siobhan says they weren't the real murder victims because "readers cared more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in a book, readers would want to carry on reading".

I said that I wanted to write about something real and I knew people who had died but I did not know any people who had been killed, except Mr. Paulson, Edward's father from school, and that was a gliding accident, not murder, and I didn't really know him.

Well, that was random. Why not just say you didn't know anyone who was murdered? I know about the attention to detail thing, but that doesn't mean we don't at least try to exercise some judgement about what details are important. The real Christopher would be thinking "does this belong in here or not???", not "I'm going to show off my awesome detail powers and bore the reader to death".

I also said that I cared about dogs because they were faithful and honest, and some dogs were cleverer and more interesting than some people. Steve, for example, who comes to the school on Thursdays, needs help to eat his food and cannot even fetch a stick. Siobhan asked me not to say this to his mother.

Wait, what? How does that make Steve not clever or interesting? He could have other talents or a great personality. Why does Christopher even know that Steve can't fetch a stick? Did he throw one for him? I don't like this bashing of a special-needs kid. Christopher probably knows what he is and just isn't telling us, so he should know better. I'd rather he bash a normal, high-functioning person whom he found to be particularly dull and untalented. They're quite common.

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This page was last modified on 26/06/2016 (dmy).