If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
This novel owes as much to poetry as it does to prose. Its opening, an invocation of the life of the city, is strongly reminiscent of Auden's Night Mail in its hypnotic portrait of industrialised society... An assured debut' Erica Wagner, The Times.
On a street in a town in the North of England, ordinary people are going through the motions of their everyday existence - str...more
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A man with scarred hands stands transfixed in reverie staring at his oblivious daughter and wonders how she will ever discern the remarkable from the ordinary if the key to the beyond continues to be stubbornly hidden behind the obtuse quiescence of daily domesticity.
I reflect upon the invisible miracles that must have slipped through my fingers or been missed by my unobservant glance under the false prete ...more
Most of the characters are never named, but as the author gradually unveils t ...more
He says do you think there's too much of it?
I say I don't know, I mean some of it, some of it seems a bit, you know, less important.
He says he was talking about that a lot, before he went away, about there being too much, that's what all these things are about, his projects, he was trying to absorb some of it.
I say too much of what, he says too much of everything, too much stuff, too much information, too many people, too much of things for there to be too much of ...more
The plot holds readers' interest but this novel's real gem is its characters. McGregor conjures up a residential city street and the people who populate it. From the old couple getting on the bus to the strange boy with the nervous tick, from the rambucuntious twins playing cricket in the street to the young adults recovering from a night of dancing, t ...more
To be fair, I've never much cared for this particular style of writing. The present tense prose is a little too sparse for my taste. The narrative structure, a little too self-conscious. There's a deliberately generic quality to the setting and characters. I suppose this was done to emphasize the basic human condition. But, how can you love your characters if you don't even name them?
This sort of book alienates me, in a way, because everyone is gen ...more
McGregor’s writing style is poetic; beautifully and meticulously structured. The story of a single day slowly unfolds through a series of little vignettes that slowly connect together, like projections on gauze. The narrative develops like ...more
This was an amazing book. Gorgeously written, and it seems to bring forth some beautiful, eloquent version of reality. It’s set in the suburbs of England, on a single street, and alternates betwe ...more
In a general, very oversimplified sense, the reason we, as humans, have names is as a way to distinguish us from one another. When I was a small writer, knee-high to a grasshopper (actually, as my parents will tell you, I was never less than knee-high to a baluchitherium, but that's beside the point), one of the things I always thought would be cool was to write a novel that had no names whatsoever in it, where everyone ...more
If you are the type of reader that must re-read a beautiful sentence just for the joy of reading a beautiful sentence, or catch your breath when reading a description too perfect for words, then this is the book for you.
It's right from the begining, the text is more poem then prose. This is a really well written book, and it draws you right in from the begining - a description of the "song of the city" that you can hear if you just listen to the little sounds going on. very entranci ...more
The trouble is it's a tough read, made tough ...more
I enjoyed this book for the most p ...more
I fell in love from the very first page. The opening is beautifully poetic and although nothing really happened I was hooked and hoping that nothing continued to happen so that I could enjoy the prose.
Things did begin to happen, although they were every-day, mundane, unremarkable things made interesting by the writing.
The "chapters" alternate between the detailed, wonderful description of a typical late Summers ...more
- the descriptions are second to none, I loved how McGregor described the city and the lives of the characters populating the story. In the best parts this is like poetry and puts you inside the created world.
- the writing really propels you onward with a sense of urgency, like a car with no b ...more
It demands an awful lot from the reader: creative formatting, inference instead of neatly packaged conclusions, jumping between two periods with three years between them, characters ...more
Stylistically, it's very similar, though I found it perhaps less rewarding - the 'community' here is much less coherent than that novel's gruesome set of conspiring junkies and alcoholics, which could leave you clamouring for a stronger sense of identity (versus yet another 'the man at number 12') and more character development. Rest assured, that does come ...more
I first encountered Jon McGregor through his 2012 collection of stories, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, brilliant, oblique, some wildly inventive, all touchingly human. So I was prepared for something quite unusual from this, his first novel, 2002 Booker nominee and winner of the Somerset Maugham award. But I was not expecting something that, though written in prose, is virtually a poem, beginning thus:
If you listen, you can hear it....more
The city, it sings.
It began, basically, with "Something has happened. I'm not telling you what is was, yet, but it was a TRAGEDY" and I had to keep reading until almost the final page to find out what it was. And what it was, ...more
In September I travelled to the cathedral city of Wells to speak at the Bishop’s Palace during the http://www.wellsfestivalofliterature.... Wells Festival of Literature. I was bursting with pride to be asked to do so. I had been a prize-winner of their short story competition and my brief was to give heart to the audience of writers, most of which had entered this years award, by sharing my success in writing since then.
I told ...more
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The city, it sings.
If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of the street, on the roof of a house.
It's clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.
It's a wordless song, for the most, but it's a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings. And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.”