Thursday, June 21, 2007

m. j. hyland



Cover of 'Carry me down', and photo of the author, M.J. Hyland.
“Carry me down” is M. J. Hyland’s second novel.

John Egan, the 11-year-old narrator of the novel, is the protagonist of “Carry me down”, an exciting story that is read very fluently, with a direct, crisp prose, and an incredible capacity for producing claustrophobic and psychologically charged scenes. The scenario consists of a mother, a father and ‘Granny’ in a house on the environs of a small Irish village named Gorey. Very quickly we notice that John is a ‘freak’ because he is extremely tall for a boy his age, as well as socially awkward and very sensitive. Naturally he is made fun of at school making the reader aware of his emotional vulnerability. And here, in the School framework appears the most interesting character, in my opinion: Mr. Roche, the eccentric, sympathetic and vengeful professor, one of the few to really accept and value John’s peculiarity. (Incredible scenes involving the disgusting bully Kate –Mr. Roche makes her drink from a bucket dog-like, until she wets herself, after mocking John for pissing his pants). The narration is exclusively his and we are told of his every moves and dreams. His ultimate goal is to appear in the Guinness Book of Records, because he believes he has a unique skill: he is able to tell when a person is lying.
Hyland admits: "I think I write about characters who don't know how to live, or find living acutely difficult in one way or another, who live life in a kind of subdued terror, so these are not characters who travel through life lightly."
Nobel Laureate, Coetzee, said about Hyland’s novels: "real works of art, written with an intelligence and a command of the medium that marks a real arrival on the literary scene".

4 comments:

Chris said...

I'm in the midst of this curious, unusual novel. It has quietly drawn me in so that I am now quite compelled to read it.

nico said...

HI Chris, I think that's a very vertiginous read, don't you think? And at the same time very intense, almost like little shots spread through an entire movie...

nico said...

...subliminal images

Christopher Claassen said...

Yes, just like a film ... or a series of overexposed polaroid snapshots. Except in the novel's case, the vignettes are overexposed to emotion: a cloying, awkward intimacy which, for me, formed the tension which underpinned the flow of the narrative.