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This Is How Paperback – 2 Jul 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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£12.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we dispatch the item. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673824
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,160,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'M.J. Hyland has a ferocious imagination, and an eerie way of squeezing the distance between author, character and reader, so that the atmosphere of the book soaks and penetrates the reader's mind. When you've been reading Hyland, other writers seem to lack integrity; they seem wedded to weak confabulations, whereas she aims straight for the truth and the heart.' Hilary Mantel

Book Description

The brilliant new novel from the author of the Man-Booker-shortlisted Carry Me Down

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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
MJ Hyland has an unusual fondness for violent misfits. In her excellent novel Carry Me Down (2006), her pubescent protagonist John Egan learns the hard way that covering mummy's face with a pillow won't necessarily make her any happier. Now, in This Is How, Hyland presents the story of Patrick Oxtoby, a down-and-out mechanic in a seaside town who turns out to be a kind of Raskolnikov tribute act. In a drunken rage, poor anger-prone Patrick learns the hard way that clobbering someone with a wrench can have serious consequences.

The publisher seems oddly reluctant to tell you that this is a book about the aftermath of a violent crime, referring only to Patrick's "tragic undoing" and supplying a pretty little cover with a man and a dog. In reality, this misleadingly advertised novel is a compelling and macabre journey to the dark side of human existence.

Like Carry Me Down, This Is How is told through sparse, present-tense, first-person narration that rattles along at a crackling pace, capturing Patrick's shock and vulnerability as events spiral rapidly beyond his control. The result is a gripping, readable and surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of a memorable antihero.

Patrick protests his innocence on the grounds that he never "intended" to do anything wrong. "My mind played hardly any part," he tell us, "but my body acted and, as far as the law is concerned, my body may as well be all that I am". Is there some truth in this "don't blame me!" determinism? This is the central issue the novel explores.

Personally, I'm not convinced. Anger, loneliness, loss of control, ignorance, drunkenness... these are causes of violence, but not excuses.
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Format: Paperback
"This is How" quickly and craftily establishes an insidious grip on the reader. Once begun, it's hard to stop reading. One senses that something is going to happen, but it's hard to know what, or when. It is set in a drab, seaside town. There's a bed and breakfast, a cafe, a couple of pubs...all ordinary and very familiar, but described in a subtle style and language that skews and infects, leaving the reader unsettled: everything is as it should be, but something is very different and very wrong. The same is true for the characters that inhabit the novel. The boarders at the b and b, the landlady, the waitress, the concerned mother...you wouldn't look at them twice in the street, but here, in this world, every phrase and action is given a sinister alternative, while at the same time remaining perfectly normal. And at the centre of the story is a unique and everyday everyman, a nothing and very much a something.
I finished the novel in two or three sittings. Before I did finish it, however, I bought Hyland's other two novels.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this after reading MJ Hyland's interview with the 'Cat Bin Woman' in the Financial Times last year (search for it - well worth a read). Hyland was chosen on the strength of this book - essentially because she showed an understanding of how events could spiral out of control, and how people could feel lost in the centre of a storm.
I really enjoyed the book. I felt strong empathy with the main character, and I loved how events were piled on top of other events, creating a very claustrophobic tone. It's very, very sad, and the final pages will stay with you for a long time.
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Maria Hyland is a superb writer, with a great prose style. Why this novel didn't make it to the Booker Prize defeats me! It is beautifully written and compelling. It's the kind of novel you will be recommending to all your serious reading pals. With a fresh emphatic prose style that picks the reader up and rushes them along, this wonderful novel deserves wide exposure and a large readership. Sympathetic, elegant, and sensitive. Hyland has been close to winning many awards, and this is perhaps her best novel. She is the author of three multi award-winning novels. How the Light Gets In (2003) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize; Carry Me Down (2006) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was winner of both the Hawthornden and Encore Prizes (2007), and This is How (2009), was longlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Dublin International IMPAC Prize in 2009. Hyland's short story, Rag Love, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2011. J M Coetzee wrote, 'Fiction writing of the first order' and Hilary Mantel wrote, 'When you've been reading Hyland other writers seem to lack integrity; she aims straight for the truth and the heart.'
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....I have no experience of mental illness, thank God.
This was a real eye opener , well written and appealing in its frankness and clarity.
It made me feel very sad that some people have to live with this horrid illness...a life wasted.
This story will stop the reader from thinking as we all do, that those with mental problems should " ...get a grip and snap out of it..."
A very sad tale...but mesmerising none the less and well worth it.
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By Moonlit VINE VOICE on 11 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I find it quite hard to evaluate this book. I found it disturbing and bleak but very well written. Patrick, a misfit, failed fiance, failed student leaves his home to go and live in a small seaside town. We have access to his thoughts so it is immediately apparent that this is someone who has real difficulty in relating to other people. It is this difficulty in reading other people that leads him to commit his crime, one for which he has no real remorse. His sorrow is mainly for himself as he perceives that he has been wrongly punished. The second part of the novel where he starts to serve out his time in prison is an indictment of the criminal justice system. Someone like Patrick will have little chance in prison and the details of what happens in prison are familiar but no less horrific for that.

This is a book which will stay with you and that is something you may not welcome. But if you want a thought provoking read, then I would recommend it.
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