The Thing about December PDF ¸ The Thing eBook

The Thing about December Set in the same village as in Ryan’s highly acclaimed previous novel The Spinning Heart The Thing in December uses a traditional third person linear narrative to tell the story of Johnsey Cunliffe in 12 chapters that cover one year of his life Johnsey is not uite as other people and finds it hard to find his place in the world especially the world of a small Irish community Regularly bullied without friends struggling to make sense of the world around him he is particularly vulnerable when his parents die and he is left completely alone The novel is during the days of the Celtic Tiger and the boom in property prices Johnsey owns land land that has now become extremely valuable and it seems that everyone around him wants to take advantage of his innocence and force him to sell the land that he so dearly wants to hold on to for it is all that he has left of the happier times when he was safe at home with his loving parents He simply doesn’t understand why he should be willing to give it up Some of the locals seem eager to help him and even appear to befriend him but Ryan skilfully conveys a feeling of mounting dread as the reader begins to understand what is going on behind the scenes as the pressure is put on Johnsey to sell This is a heartrending and moving story The descriptions of Johnsey’s loneliness and bewilderment those of a young man ill euipped to survive without guidance and vulnerable to the avariciousness and greed that surround him the book is a fable of how the innocent suffer when the profit motive is given free reign This is an unsettling and deeply moving book beautifully written and expertly plotted and one that deserves a wide readershipMy thanks to Netgalley for sending it to me Wow I could not put this book down I was racing to get to the end of the story in spite of knowing it wasn't going to end happily ever after It follows a year in the life of 24 year old manboy Johnsy in Tipperary during the times of the Celtic Tiger Johnsy is somewhat limited and has been overprotected by his parents Away from his family's protection Johnsy is regularly tormented by a gang of his peers who are on the dole and spend their days drinking and looking for trouble I first discovered this author when I read The Spinning Heart This story has a similar feel to it I descibed that book as melancholy the same could descibe this as well Instead of a feel good story this is a feel bad one And yet I couldn't stop reading in spite of how it made me feel Ryan has a talent for evoking such raw emotion from his characters The arguments the misunderstandings the awkwardness of new relationships all relayed in beautiful often bleak prose Here's Johnsy If you were feeling especially lonesome and just sitiing in the kitchen say and you let it out through the gate because you weren't concentrating properly on keeping a rein on it your mind could have a fine old wander about for itself I just want to copy whole sections I was moved by but I'll restrain myself Let me just say that Ryan's characters are so painfully real you can feel what they are feeling You will live the year along with Johnsy And you'll feel like you're on a fast train that is out of control And then you will crash What can you ask for in a book? ‘He heard Daddy one time saying he was a grand uiet boy to Mother when he thought Johnsey couldn’t hear them talking Mother must have been giving out about him being a gom and Daddy was defending him He heard the fondness in Daddy’s voice But you’d have fondness for an auld eejit of a crossbred pup that should have been drowned at birth’While the Celtic Tiger rages and greed becomes the norm Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world Village bullies and scheming land grabbers stand in his way no matter where he turns Set over the course of one year of Johnsey’s life The Thing About December breathes with his grief bewilderment humour and agonizing self doubt This is a heart twisting tale of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he isDonal Ryan’s award winning debut The Spinning Heart garnered unprecedented acclaim and The Thing About December confirms his status as one of the best writers of his generation This is a beautifully written book but full of sadness and grief bullying and sometimes violence I found it difficult to read at times but yet I just had to stay there with Johnsey He's an innocent and naive man who has lost both parents and is trying to manage on his own but has never had to The outside world seems to move in and prey on himJohnsey will steal your heart and then his story will break it as you follow his narrative month by month during the year he is first alone He remembers times from his childhood and it's apparent that he had never really fit in It's sometimes hard to know if he is really mentally deficient or just an innocent soul Although it was difficult at times to follow the Irish vernacular I got used to it This is a moving story that will give you pause about how people treat each otherThanks to Steerforth Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to review another one of Donal Ryan's books“How big is a feeling? Not even as big as one of them atoms that the science teacher used to be on about It’s nothing and everything at the same time”At first I thought our narrator Johnsey was a young child his speech and thoughts seemed so childish and simple Then I thought he was mentally challenged Then I realized he might just be slower to understand than most other people Stupid you could say And I pitied him I pitied him his loneliness and his simplistic worldview I pitied him because his father died and then his mother killed herself leaving him lonelier than before I felt deep sadness for him too because his parents clearly loved him but still they left him alone and sad and frightened to mourn them both “This couldn’t be kept up though this way he had of seeing only blackness lately”Split into 12 parts starting with January ending with December this is the story of Johnsey Cunliffe Johnsey hasn’t lived the best life you can imagine and not the worst either at least not until both his parents die Growing up he was shielded by his parents from the realities and cruelties of the world sure he was bullied but his parents never urged him to fight back they never taught him how to survive in a world constantly out to get him for being fat for being stupid for being different In these 12 months he experiences life on his own for the first time he learns all those things he should have understood a long time ago He experiences grief depression humiliation pain but he also forms an unlikely friendship learns happiness again and loves for the very first time “It’s easy have things happen to you All you have to do is exist Making things happen back is the hard thing”All his life things have happened to Johnsey and now suddenly he has to make things happen back without his parents or a soul in the world to guide him He has to face society on his own and traverse the delicate social waters of a tight knit rural community It results in a constant miscommunication between him and everyone else and it breeds a prejudice and judgment that slowly grows into something large and ugly Something that could have been averted but slowly becomes inevitable simply because humans are too good at judging based on assumed knowledge We’re satisfied once we’ve found a scapegoat we can pin our frustrations and worries on And if he never learned how to fight back? All the better I might have pitied Johnsey to begin with and I might have pitied him in the end but not for the same reasons and the one I pity most is myself for judging him before I knew him For reading a sentence and thinking I understood the man Johnsey’s narration is deceptively simplistic as I got further into the book I realized I had gravely misjudged him He is uite elouent in his descriptions and given enough time he’s often accurate in his understanding of and observations about people and situations He’s not as stupid as he’s lead us to believe adding to the sadness we feel for him He is a product of yes a simple mind but also overprotecting parents Given different circumstances he might have led a near normal life but some damage cannot be undone Donal Ryan is a great writer and both this and The Spinning Heart are testaments to his incredible talent He tells tales that touch you profoundly and that speak volumes about human vulnerability and desperation in a society that’s collapsing while keeping his writing simple and insightful He’s worth keeping an eye on 35 A rather short little book that contains much Johnny has lost both his parents in a short period of timeHe is ill euipped to handle life on his own and he spends much time pondering this defect He tries so hard to hang on to the past remembering times with his dad He is bullied relentlessly and though he receives some kindness he is mostly now alone People try to toke advantage of his slowness by trying to trick him out of his landSet in Ireland during the time of the Celtic Tiger this is a very well written and gritty novel Much of it is grim but it is hard not to take to and feel sorry for Johnnie In many ways he is such an innocent The book chapters AR months the months since he was left alone This is his story and though in his internal dialogue he often laments that he understands so little in fact I think he has the measure of some of the undesirable characters found in the story A novel about changing times and the effort of on young man who has a very hard time keeping up with the changesARC from NetGalley Sometimes difficult to read because of all the Irish phrasing But worth perseveringIt seemed to me this is the new Irish type of stream of conciousness With interpunction this timeIt's about the life of a young man About his doubts feelings and thoughts based on his protected Catholic upbringing Superbly told This was a hard one for me to get into review and rate It was unrelentingly grim I like my depressing Irish books but I usually like them with a bit black humor like Claire Kilroy's The Devil I Know The number of bad things that happened to Johnsey made the book almost unbelievable for me On the other hand although it took me awhile to get into the dialect probably not a problem for Irish readers I found Donal Ryan's prose gorgeous and there were several extremely poignant uotations about the nature of the human conditions Passages like the one below took my breath awayLoneliness covers the earth like a blanket It flows in the stream down through the Callows to the lake It's in the muck in the yard and the briars in the haggard and the empty outbuildings are bursting with it It runs down the walls inside of the house like tears and grows on the walls outside like a poisonous choking weed It's in the sky and the stones and the clouds and the grass The air is thick with it you breath it into your lungs and you feel like it might suffocate you It runs into hollow places like rainwater It settles on the grass and on trees and takes their shapes and all the earth is wet with it It has a smell like the inside of a saucepan scrapped metal cold and sharp When it hits you it feels like a rap of a hurl across your knuckles on a frosty winter's morning in PE sharp shocking pain but inside you so it can't be seen and no one says sorry for causing it nor asks are you ok and no kind teacher wants to look at it and tut tut and tell you you'll be grand good lad But you know if another man stood where you're standing and looked at the same things he wouldn't see it or feel it Donal Ryan has become an author I plan to watch He has a uniue and powerful voice In this his second book he tells the story of one year in the life of Johnsey Cunliffe The novel is broken into sections by month loosely organized by those tasks Johnsey recalls his father performing on the family farm when he was small But now his father has died and his world has changed and Johnsey a young man who lacks social graces and is considered somewhat simple by locals is trying to figure out what his life is to becomeThere are givers and takers in his world It's the time of things actually going well for Ireland but that doesn't always mean well for everyoneJohnsey is caught in the wheelings and dealings and his simplicity is not a helpAs in The Spinning Heart Ryan uses some lyrical prose in his decriptions of the land and also provides wonderful portraits of various characters who surround Johnsey The morning sun was fairly beaming down and all the trees were heavy with green and there was a haze of flies and bugs and butterflies about the land and all he could do was think about how some lives are full to bursting with people and work and sport and children and fun and his own was all empty spaces where those things ought rightly to be were he the kind of man that could close his fist around opportunity and keep a tight howlt of it rather than shrinking from it and hiding inside his parents' house nearly too scared to even peep out for fear of failure and ridicule loc 1409This selection reveals a few things a near stream of consciousness approach and the use of Irish vernacular which wash through the book and which I allowed to flow over me Something not present here is the often earthy tone of Johnsey's thoughts and speech While I would assume it is a fairly normal pattern for the young Irish male character Ryan has created at times it seemed a bit excessive But I can't allow that to interfere with my overall praise of this novel though some readers might be put offThis is ultimately a very powerful novel and while I like The Spinning Heart fractionally better I rate this one at 4 to 45Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ecopy of this book for review The book was just greatI did'nt know anything about the story or what to expect before i started reading it but it was a real treatThe story of Johnsey is really a tragic tale of lonelinessgreed and bullyingmanipulation but most of all about his terrible lonelinessBut there is an amazing humour in the telling of this taleAt times it was just absolutely hilarious and i had to put the book down as i couldnt read the page my arms were shaking so much from the laughterThe characters were all wonderful and their way of talking to each otherthe banter was just so funny it kept catching me by surprise and i would be away laughing again even when the poor guy was in hospital in a terrible stateWhere else would you get a book with a character called Mumbly DaveBehind all the humour and lovely interaction between the characters at times it is still behind it all a very tragic tale that will move peopleI hope other people will enjoy this book as much as i didIt may take a while to get into the local dialect but once you get that you wont look back and eventhough you will really feel for Johnsey you will also definitely laugh out loud at times

About the Author: Donal Ryan

Donal Ryan is the author of the novels The Spinning Heart The Thing About December the short story collection A Slanting of the Sun and the forthcoming novel All We Shall Know He holds a degree in Law from the University of Limerick and worked for the National Employment Rights Authority before the success of his first two novels allowed him to pursue writing as a full time career

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