A new kind of novel is taking over. Is the “hindered narrator” a step forward for fiction?by Leo Benedictus / February 22, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
The story of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is told by a precocious grieving boy—in other words, a classic hindered narrator. Credit: promotional and production
The following sentence may be familiar. “I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you would stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some other reason, like cancer for example, or a road accident.”
That’s Christopher, of course, who narrates The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The “of course” creeps in because, if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognise his sweet robotic phrasing. If you haven’t, I’m sure you get the idea. Christopher is 15 years old and has an unspecified autism-like condition. For a published author, he writes very clumsily. Which is the point: he isn’t one. The clumsiness is a device the book’s real author Mark Haddon used, with great success, to bring Christopher’s mind to life.