I am quite a fan of ‘coming of age’ stories so I was quite excited when I picked up Carry me Down. I read this novel in 2006 when I was at a low point in my life and I thought it would be a sort of pick me up.
Carry me down is gritty, very gritty. It starts out with some kittens being killed and ends with the main protagonist, John Egan, finally emerging out of childhood.
but the rite of passage in between is a tough one and Hyland does manage to capture John’s innocence to situations, such as his family moving, his father’s affair and repercussions and his bullying at school. In way Egan is a like a less delinquent version of Patrick McCabe’s creation, Francie Brady. Oblivious to the world and, in a way, himself.
Despite the fact that John is at a loss to the world, he is still unlovable. Throughout the duration of the novel I was unable to pity John in any way,sure Hyland is a clever writer but the characters in this book are cold hearted creatures that cannot give love. I think that although childhood does have it’s hardships and misunderstandings there are moments of bliss and ‘Carry me Down’ lacks a lot of happy pieces so I admit I was not able to engross myself fully with the novel. I felt like some peeping tom.
Probably growing up in ‘ 70’s Ireland was tough but I doubt if it was like some daily depressant. Even books which treat the same subject such McCabe’s ‘The Butcher Boy’ or Roddy Doyle’s ‘Paddy Clark ha ha ha’ sometimes a potentially great novel is ruined by lack of humour and Ultimately ‘Carry me Down’ suffers from that.