Carry Me Downby M. J. Hyland
John Egan is a misfit "a twelve year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant" who diligently keeps a "log of lies." John's been able to detect lies for as long as he can remember, it's a source of power but also great consternation for a boy so young. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of Records, a keenly inquisitive mind,/i>… See more details below
John Egan is a misfit "a twelve year old in the body of a grown man with the voice of a giant" who diligently keeps a "log of lies." John's been able to detect lies for as long as he can remember, it's a source of power but also great consternation for a boy so young. With an obsession for the Guinness Book of Records, a keenly inquisitive mind, and a kind of faith, John remains hopeful despite the unfavorable cards life deals him.
This is one year in a boy's life. On the cusp of adolescence, from his changing voice and body, through to his parents’ difficult travails and the near collapse of his sanity, John is like a tuning fork sensitive to the vibrations within himself and the trouble that this creates for he and his family.
Carry Me Down is a restrained, emotionally taut, and sometimes outrageously funny portrait whose drama drives toward, but narrowly averts, an unthinkable disaster.
- Canongate Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
M.J. Hyland is an ex-lawyer and the author of three multi-award-winning novels: How the Light Gets In, Carry Me Down, and This is How. Carry Me Down was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won both the Hawthornden Prize and The Encore Prize.
Hyland is also a lecturer in Creative Writing in The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester where she runs fiction workshops, alongside Martin Amis, Colm Tóibín, and Jeanette Winterson. She also runs regular fiction masterclasses in The Guardian Masterclass Programme, and has twice been shortlisted for the BBC Short Story Prize (2011 and 2012). She also publishes in The Guardian's "How to Write" series, and has written nonfiction for The Financial Times, Granta, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Hyland is co-founder of The Hyland and Byrne Editing Firm (see - editingfirm.com & mjhyland.com)
- Melbourne, Australia
- Date of Birth:
- June 6, 1968
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- Arts/Law Degree, the University of Melbourne, Australia, 1996; M.A in English, The University of Melbourne, 2004
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This book was one of the most tedious books I've read in a long time. With unlikable characters, a plot that was hardly even there, and page after page of basic garbage, I couldn't wait for an ending...and even that was horribly lacking. The writing was just fine, but the book as a whole was a complete waste of time.
True or not, I can't help feeling that ANGELA'S ASHES has destroyed a generation of Irish/American writers (or any writer wanting to write in the field). Not to say that CARRY ME DOWN is ANGELA'S ASHES all over again, but I can feel its ghosts tucked between Hyland's spare, plain, beautiful, yet graphic writing style. Haunting is a word that will pop up time and again as you read the book, and it is a haunted book to be sure. The last time I actually got this involved with a character and their moods and feelings was with Will Perry in Phillip Pullman's A SUBTLE KNIFE, so, why the low score when all it seems I have nothing but praise and teaspoons of surgar for this novel... well, there are some problems. As good as the prose is, it still comes across like a play with all the stage directions wedged into the story trying to pass itself off as legitimate fiction - it's not. Everything is stark, sharp and literal. Cup. Table. Chair. Fireplace - you name it, it all reads flat on the page and never sticks in your mind. Some of the ideas do. The subplot about being a human lie detector, the struggling and desperate end to a marriage and the breaking of the family unit, it's all done very well. But then there are the triggers and emotional landmines that cheapen the deal. The fate of the kittens being the most grevious, and sore thumbed. It's a brutal scene, and pulls at your heart - not because it's so well written, but because it's murder most foul, plain and simple. I could ring tears out of that scene in any novel, no matter the subject, so when I read it here it really felt like a scene Hyland had floating around in a journal that got transplated into this novel. And while the dialogue was well written, and often sharp, it tends to sound flat inside your head. Almost like you've walked into the 1,000 performance of a play, and the actors hearts are tired of the material - it's colorless, humourless and dry... but still compelling in its decay. It's a tough novel, one that I wanted to love every time I turned the page, but by the last page I simply could not love it as a novel, but could find some heart for the process and art of it trying to be a novel. CARRY ME DOWN comes across like a work in progress, much like its lead character, and as he develops we hope the novel will as well, but it never does. It ends without ending, much like life itself.
This novel is long-listed for the 2006 Booker prize and is the best of the bunch that I've read so far. The prose is clean and sharp and the suspense and atmosphere that builds up is awful (meaning great). Comparisons t other child narrators like that in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time or David Mitchell's latest rather miss the point this is a book about the consequences of a kind of extreme puritanism and perfectionism - the desire to make the world in the way you want it and the inabiity to fully realise that other people have lives that are outside your ken. However, like the best child narrators, John Egan (the 12 year old central character) does evoke strong felings of sympathy (despite him being a little creepy)and sees the world with an off-kilter vision that has not yet been dulled by adulthood. A great read. highly recommended.
'This is an unisual novel that is wrenchng and totally satisfying.'
I could not put this book down and could not stop thinking about it after I finished. It was brilliant from beginning to end. The writing is sharp and simple, the characters complex and believable, the story slightly surreal but truthful. Read it now.
do not bother to read this book - it is time you will never get back; there are very few books that I do not forward to friends or family to read - I had no one that I would give this book to - it went right in the trash as soon as I finished the last word
Love the characters. Love the writing style. Not sure though if I was held to the story because of this, or if I was truly waiting for a plot that just never really came to pass. Loved the scene with the new teacher vs the bully..Hated the Kitten thing. Wanted so badly for Guiness to write back to John.. Wanted so badly for John to have a friend....deeep sigh.. wanted so badly to just overall love this book,but I am afraid that it was a bit too "understated" for me (lots of things unsaid but hinted at..homosexuality,sexuality,molestation,perversions, ect).. The only real "page turner" happened without any type of warning, and I am still trying to make sense of it. SPOILER ALERT!!! Would have made so much more sense if Mammy was the one with the psychological problem which lead to a suicide attempt, not a murder attempt.. I just can't wrap my brain around it-am thinking that this is the feeling that the author was looking for... just a big "oh my, what the heck happened?" but it falls short.
This book was huge waste of time. There was no plot to the story and I kept reading it for the purpose for maybe it will finally start getting a plot. Read the whole book and nothing! I would not reccomend this book