The deadpan matter of fact writing of this book, I who otherwise loves the complexity in expressions, found this so engrossing.
And who could have imagined what a title of a book like this would lead to!
Christopher, the narrator of the story is a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s syndrome. He loves maths and his pet rat Toby, he hates the colour yellow and brown, and being touched and people telling lies.
(excerpts from the book in italics)
I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies.
…I do not always do what I am told. And this is because when people tell you what to do it is usually very confusing and does not make sense.
Mr. Jeavons said that I liked maths because it was safe. He said I liked maths because it meant solving problems, and these problems were difficult and interesting, but there was always a straightforward answer at the end. And what he meant was that maths wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end. (How lovely, though Christopher goes ahead and explains that life can really be straightforward!)
My memory is like a film. That is why I am really good at remembering things.
And when you look at the sky you know you are looking at stars which are hundreds and thousands of light years away from you. And some of the stars don’t even exist anymore because their light has taken so long to get to us that they are already dead, or they have exploded and collapsed into red dwarfs. And that makes you seem very small, and if you have difficult things in your life it is nice to think that they are what is called negligible which means that they are so small you don’t have to take them into account when you are calculating something.
And then I thought I had to be like Sherlock Holmes and I had to detach my mind at will to a remarkable degree so that I did not notice how much it was hurting inside my head.
And this means that time is a mystery, and not even a thing, and no one has ever solved the puzzle of what time is, exactly. And so, if you get lost in time it is being lost in a desert, except that you can’t see the desert because it is not a thing. And this is why I like timetables because they make sure you don’t get lost in time. 🙂
People believe in God because the world is very complicated and they think it is very unlikely that anything as complicated as a flying squirrel or the human eye or a brain could happen by chance. But they should think logically and if they thought logically they would see that they can only ask this question because it has already happened and they exist.
And there is life on earth because of an accident. But it is a very special kind of accident. And for this accident to happen in this special way, there have to be 3 conditions. And these are
- Things have to make copies of themselves (this is called Replication)
- They have to make small mistakes when they do this (this is called Mutation)
- These mistakes have to be the same in their copies (this is called Heritability)
And these conditions are very rare, but they are possible, and they cause life. And it just happens.
And people who believe in God think God has put human beings on the earth because they think human beings are the best animal, but human beings are just an animal and they will evolve into another animal, and that animal will be cleverer and it will put human beings into a zoo, like we put chimpanzees and gorillas into a zoo. Or human beings will all catch a disease and die out or they will make too much pollution and kill themselves, and then there will only be insects in the world and they will be the best animal.
Note: Asperger’s syndrome is a type of autism, and autism can be difficult to explain. Reading Christopher’s story can be a good way to begin understanding. Autism is when something goes wrong with the development of the brain and the nervous system. People with Asperger’s syndrome find it difficult to imagine the thoughts and feelings of others. They can be very literal and find it difficult to understand complex languages and jokes.