This is How by MJ Hyland

Hyland speculates, in one of the reflective interviews she gives, that ‘None of my fiction (so far) offers redemption or relief from the hurts inflicted and this might explain why my endings are categorically unpopular (and why my books don’t sell very well).’ Tin House

I suspect another reason for the lack of sales is her failure to satisfy any genre. It’s fiction. It contains crimes. But it isn’t crime fiction. Yet because it contains crimes it is no doubt belittled by the anti-crime fiction brigade. And then, she believes strongly in characters and story-line, which makes her damned elsewhere.

The novels that taught me to write, the ones I still love to read, do more than merely describe life; they expose life, show it ‘on a slant’. And the books I most admire are usually tragedies made of everyday, quotidian terrors; written without self-consciousness and as though the writer was seized, couldn’t stall or stop or stagger or lean on easier or more ‘popular’ ground. I don’t read—and can’t write—in certain styles; such as the all-seeing epics with large-casts, or the countrywide gaze of 19th century novels, or the calculated and indifferent difficulty of some of the modernists, or the experiments of meta-fiction, which impress, but fail to feel. And I can’t stomach mucking about with form, especially when the insistence on ‘making it new’ refuses the linear tale; denies the highest pleasure of story-telling.

I highly recommend reading all of this erudite interview.

As for the book, it couldn’t have provided a starker contrast with Cave’s And The Ass Saw The Angel, just abandoned. I’m sorry to say this, as a Cave admirer, but none of the words matter in his book. You could omit any of them, rearrange the lot, it wouldn’t matter. Whereas Hyland’s words are required, so, and so and just here and precisely there. At some point in a future which has different value judgements from those of the literary canon presently, her books will be viewed with a shining light that puts her right up there with the very best. I hope there are more to come.

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