In Gilmore Girls, aka the best show ever written, bright-eyed Rory Gilmore is continually seen reading a wide array of books. Whether in preparation for Harvard or for her time at Yale, she is always improving herself via literature.
Juxtapose this with Patrick Lenton, who found himself re-reading The Wheel of Time for the seventeenth time, grimly hoping the ingrained misogyny might somehow disappear if he just believed hard enough. What happened to his days of challenging himself? What about that one time he read Moby Dick and felt good for eight years? Patrick decided to take a leaf out of Rory’s books and read Rory’s books.
52.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows Christopher, a fifteen-year-old mathematician with ‘behavioural issues’ as he tries to solve the mystery of the murder of the next door neighbour’s dog, which he finds impaled on a garden fork.
It’s heavily implied that Christopher has some kind of autism or other developmental issue, as he’s heavily impeded by the amount of stimulation around him, and unable to understand other people beyond the literal. The mystery takes him all the way to London, and reveals shocking revelations about his own mother, who we are told died two years earlier of a heart attack.
This is a goddamn delightful book, almost entirely because of the unique lens through which we see the world. Told from Christopher’s perspective, and bound by his eccentric rules and limitations, even the most mundane situation can become a moment of high drama. It can also be incredibly funny, and sad too.
My favourite part about the book is the light it sheds on how difficult it is for human beings to connect with each other and tell the truth about their emotions. Christopher might have a little more difficulty doing this than most, but in the book his difficulties seems to suggest that he is actually more sensitive to all of humanity’s flaws.
The obvious comparison to Christopher is Kirk from Gilmore Girls, who clearly holds a similar ‘outsider’ kind of status. While we never really see Stars Hollow through Kirk’s eyes, we are constantly shown how different he is.
In a town of eccentrics, Kirk is more eccentric than most: surpassing even the grumpy diner owner, the wacky dance teacher and the power-hungry small town mayor. As a consequence, he is generally used for comedic effect: Kirk has done something weird again; Kirk has caused problems. He can also be a sad character – the scene where he asks Lorelei on a date being a good example.
However, I think Kirk’s character stops short of being misused as a comic prop because of how clear it is that, despite being grumbled over and poked a bit of fun at, he is accepted and beloved in Stars Hollow. He seems to work in almost every business, and is involved deeply in all the community events. When he is in trouble, the town rallies around him. He also later gets a girlfriend, who is refreshingly not a wacked-out space cadet.
Kirk operates within a series of what could seem to be limitations, but he is fulfilled and happy within them. There is a motif of people creating their own limitations in Gilmore Girls, and making them into a home: Luke with his diner and his routine; Lorelei with her independence and the world away from her parents, which she strictly guards.
Kirk has a defined world – he might be bound to it by circumstance, but he lives there happily.
Curious to see the full reading list? You can view it here.
Patrick Lenton is a blogger at The Spontaneity Review and the author of A Man Made Entirely of Bats. He is the recipient of the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and shortlisted for the Scribe Nonfiction Prize. Find him on Twitter @PatrickLenton.