Hyland's clever prose is first-rate, but wit makes a weak substitute for insight in this novel about a deeply troubled young Englishman who seeks a fresh start, only to end up facing serious criminal charges. As a child, the unreliable 23-year-old narrator, Patrick Oxtoby, was an excellent student, but after a breakdown at age 14 he became fascinated with mechanics. Now, shortly after his fiancée leaves him, he lands in a small seaside town, takes a job at an auto repair shop and moves into a boarding house he can't afford. It seems as if Hyland misses every opportunity to delve into the roots of Patrick's awkwardness: his landlady and a local waitress provide him fantasy material, and it's clear, even from Patrick's problematic perspective, that he comes across as creepy. Nonetheless, both women inexplicably trust him, just as his parents and older brother appear to love and encourage him-until his arrest, at which point, and without explanation, they abandon him. Hyland (Carry Me Down) sails across Patrick's dark exterior with humor and empathy, but as with everyone Patrick encounters, she hesitates to dive below the surface. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This is Howby M. J. Hyland
M. J. Hyland is the award winning and Man Booker shortlisted author of Carry Me Down. Her third novel, This Is How, is a psychologically probing and deeply moving account of a man at odds with the world. Patrick Oxtoby is a perpetual outsider longing to find his niche. When his fiancé breaks off their engagement, Patrick leaves home and moves to a remote seaside village. In spite of his hopes for a new and better life, Patrick struggles to fit in or make the right impression. He can’t shake the feeling that his new friends are conspiring against him, further fracturing his already fragile personality and prompting him to take a course of action that permanently alters the course of his life.
This Is How is a mesmerizing and meticulously drawn portrait of a man whose unease in the world as it is leads to his tragic undoing. With breathtaking wisdom and astute insight into the human mind, Hyland’s latest is a masterpiece that arouses horror and sympathy in equal measure.
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Meet the Author
M.J. Hyland was born in London to Irish parents in 1968. She studied law and English at the University of Melbourne and, until August 2005, lived and worked in Australia. Hyland is also the author of the international bestseller How the Light Gets In and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006 for her second novel, Carry Me Down.
- 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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It only took a few pages for me to grow nervous. It quickly becomes clear that there's something off about Patrick. He tells little lies for unclear reasons. To create a better impression? To conform to expectations? He's a bit paranoid. His silent observations tend to be judgmental, and as they pile up they grow unsettling. I don't understand him. Yet I came to care for him. I still don't know if I actually grew to like him, but I desperately wanted things to turn out well for him. I wanted him to start making better decisions, and when he didn't I grew more and more frustrated, but I refused to give up on him. M.J. Hyland has a minimalist and deliberate style. She packs a lot of meaning and implication into few words. This is her third book. Somehow I missed it when it first came out. I wish I found it sooner. I look forward to her next novel because she keeps getting better and better.
First you are introduced to this young man as he moves to a boarding house by the sea to start a new job and a new life away from his family and a broken engagement. As you grow to know him through his internal dialogue, you become caught up in his disassociation from normal relationships and inability to connect. As the tension escalates you know something bad will happen, but not sure whether by him or to him. As the story unfolds, the young man's situation becomes worse and worse, until he finally, in desperation, finds solace in the only human contact that he can. An unusual and disturbing book, but one I read quickly as I could not it down.
This captivating tale encourages one to take heed of life's riches, that there are worse circumstances one could encounter... With snippets of dark humor, we watch as our struggling protagonist, in a moment's indiscretion, becomes mired in a world equivalent to a living hell. This extraordinary story begs to ask, is life really that bad?, and what can we do to enjoy every precious moment? What a stunning read!!
After reading The time travelers wife and this book I might give up reading and go to the boob tube. Couldn't be worse.