- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 28 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 20 July 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ1SZA
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Carry Me Down
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John and his parents are living with his grandmother in Gorey, a country village (in Ireland). His parents are having a difficult time and his father wants to enrol in University, but he has to pass the Trinity examination. John doesn't make friends easily, but when a new teacher arrives at the school, John is picked out as someone special - for the first time in his life his vivid imagination seems valued. But then his father quarrels with his grandmother and they leave for Dublin where they live in a high-rise block of flats and his father gets a low-grade job as a machinist.
The intensity of this narrative which gives us John's internal thoughts and ideas in relentless detail, can become a little overwhelming. John seems at times both threatening and vulnerable and the family atmosphere becomes claustrophobic, especially after John catches his father lying once too often. There is one incident at this stage of the book that is horrifically chilling and may cause the reader to withdraw any easy sympathy the book has built up for John. Nevertheless, this is a totally engrossing read.
Yet these obsessions cause trouble. His attempt to break a world record leads to an embarrasing incident in class whilst his pursuit of truth affects the relationships of those closest to him. His family are thrown out of the cosy cottage and end up on the twelfth floor of a grimy, Dublin skyscraper.
Throughout this novel, narrated in the first person by John, we question the integrity and even the sanity of the storyteller, realising his obsessional nature may reflect a psychological condition which prevents him from appreciating the effects his actions have on others. Yet it is this element of mystery that makes this novel so intriguing. MJ Hyland explores the naivety and uncertainty of a 12 year old boy with precision and the novel is written in an unfussy, controlled style.
John's mother's lively encouragement of his imagination and creativity, reflecting her own love of fantasy and theatre, add to this explosive mix, and his sensual attachment to her is poignantly expressed , as are his other emerging sexual feelings.The betrayal of Brendan is keenly observed by Hyland, and the claustraphobic intensity of the shed scene was unforgettable.Kate makes for a villain of operatic proportions.
Tragically, just as Mr Roche- a potentially redemptive and inspirational force for good in John's life arrives on the scene, his father's failure to provide any stability for his family ruptures John's hopes of finding acceptance and self esteem through the new school experiences.The later appearance of a more subdued and flattened Mr Roche was disturbing- a teasing inclusion, perhaps left a little too loose ended....No ideal saviour was to be provided in this novel, all are compromised by the world that refuses acceptance to the illfitting pegs...
Life in Dublin is a nightmare of terrifying proportions.John's earlier life appears as a paradise by comparison. Hyland paints this ghoulish world of the ugly ordinariness of poverty and ignorance unflinchingly. How a boy of John's sensitivity survives at all is surprising. His mother almost capitulates to the horrors and his father is dragged into the dark meaninglessness all too easily.While John's actions to save/destroy his mother in her depressed despair are shocking, the ultimate result saves the whole family.Like a bushfire that regenerates, John's desperate act transforms his life and his parents'.By at last realising the catastrophic damage their actions have reeked on John's mind, they burst into positive action to save John's future- and their own. One can only hope that Hyland is not overly optimistic about John's future, unfairly cast as he is as the guilty party .After so much damage has been done,one hopes his resiliance and intelligence will win through.The ending promises hope and redemption- a brave move in a world that so often preaches only doom and hopelessness.