Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Orange Wednesday: This is how (MJ Hyland)
As UK readers will know, Orange Wednesday is when those with mobile phones serviced by Orange can go to the cinema on 2 for 1 tickets. I thought I'd borrow their phrase to organise my blogging about the Orange longlist; I wrote last week that I intend to read and blog about some of the longlist. I also decided that I want to go back over the previous longlists and use them to inspire and broaden my reading over the next few months - it turns out that I have been reading more of these since I originally looked at the longlist of longlists and I'd like to read more. So over the next few weeks and months you can expect an Orange Wednesday post devoted to a title from an Orange longlist.
My first title is from this year's longlist, and is This is how by MJ Young, which Canongate kindly sent to me after the longlist was published last week.
It's slightly difficult to write about this book without spoiling the plot; the blurb on the back of the book suggested that something was going to happen which would be key to the plot (it was slightly more explicit than I am being here!), and I spent most of the first 130+ pages waiting for the event to happen and to see what it was! This was a little disappointing as rather than being swept along with the story, I was just waiting... So if you are going to read the book, then please don't look at the back beforehand.
The book is about a man called Patrick. He has just moved to a seaside town in search of a new start, having broken up with his fiancee. He finds a new home in a boarding house, gets a new, well-paid job as a car mechanic, and meets a waitress in a nearby cafe to whom he takes a fancy. Hyland really gets inside Patrick's head, revealing him to be a loner and socially awkward. It's a tense and claustrophobic read; somehow despite Patrick's desire to start afresh, nothing goes quite right, and quite without the spoiler, the reader is waiting for something to happen.
I don't want to write anymore about the plot, but I want to say how very gripped I was by the book. I literally was unable to put it down until I had finished, and stayed up until midnight to do so. For several days afterwards, Patrick and his story occupied my brain, and it is extremely rare for a book to do that to me.
MJ Hyland is certainly an author that I want to encounter again, and I see that her earlier novel Carry me down, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize previously made it to an Orange longlist.