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If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,349 Ratings  ·  578 Reviews

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

Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Bloomsbury (first published 2002)
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Stefan Christensen I'm a bit late, but I cried at the ending. Not sure if they were tears of joy or sadness. But it was beautiful either way.
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Sep 15, 2014 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who find the remarkable in the ordinary
Recommended to Dolors by: Teresa
Shelves: read-in-2014
“He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?” (239)

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
Aug 25, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
arrgh. What a nice little book this was. So many beautiful little phrases and a great sense of isolation and the better feelings of lonely. Everything was going for this book. Who cares if there is a lack of character names, the characters were nicely flushed out the people in our everyday lives are who we know but don't really know. Everything was going right for it and then it fucking Bel Canto-ed me. I didn't even see it coming, right out of left field I was Patchetted, and the I wanted to la ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
If you start into this book looking for a conventional, plot-driven story, you might be disappointed. This is more like a motion picture put in words, exquisitely recording one summer day in the life of one unremarkable neighborhood in Northern England. As you watch the various residents going through their day from earliest morning until late afternoon, you also get to peek inside their hearts and minds and histories.

Most of the characters are never named, but as the author gradually unveils t
Jul 31, 2014 ·Karen· added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tea drinkers everywhere
The magnificence of the mundane.

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
Alex Csicsek
Jan 16, 2009 Alex Csicsek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a poetic novel about a typical summer day with a decidedly atypical climax in the life of a dense urban street in an unnamed English city.

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
May 02, 2010 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lit-fiction
this is an interesting novel which was nominated for the booker prize.written almost like a prose poem, it is the story of a group of people living in one block somewhere in england.very few of the characters are given names, they are identified solely by their flat numbers (the boy in number 18, for example).at the very beginning of the book an unnamed tragedy occurs and you have to wait almost 275 pages to find out what happened.unfortunately after all this time, the ending is weak, which i ha ...more
There is nothing remarkable about the characters of this book. They are ordinary neighbors of a run-down neighborhood, living their ordinary lives, going through their ordinary routines, talking about ordinary things. Yet Jon McGregor, the author of "If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things" subtly shows us that the ordinary can be and is remarkable. He traces the lives of a group of people living in the same street, connected only by this fact, during a period of one day. We also get to know one o ...more
May 03, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If nobody speaks of incredibly mundane things...

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
Ian Kirkpatrick
Mar 29, 2012 Ian Kirkpatrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I would re-read “if nobody speaks of remarkable things” as it had been a few years since I last read it. I remember being very impressed by Jon McGregor when I initially read the book (I was going through a phase of reading debut novels at the time).

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
Laala Alghata
Feb 24, 2010 Laala Alghata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“He sees a boy and a girl, the boy is sleeping, they are both naked and tangled up in each other, the light in the room is clean and golden and happiness is seeping out through the window, the girl looks at him and smiles and whispers good afternoon.” ~ If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor

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
Robert Beveridge
Jon McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)

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
Manuela M
Jun 13, 2010 Manuela M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorites
Sheer prose.
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
Jayne Charles
This book scores incredibly highly on the modern literature gimmickry checklist. Let's see now...... Not a speech mark in the place...CHECK Hardly any of the characters named....CHECK Hanging paragraphs....hmmm that's innovative....CHECK Speech reported warts and all so it takes three readings of each sentence to make out what is being said ...CHECK Most of the commas and a good few full-stops left out....CHECK On that basis it should be a bestseller!

The trouble is it's a tough read, made tough
Mark Hebwood
Apr 06, 2014 Mark Hebwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly a beautifully written novel. As in good poetry, form and content embrace, feeding off each other and creating an ephemeral "feel", rather than a story. Somehow, this "feel" manages to separate itself from the language which transports it, rather like the scent of perfume tends to linger after the liquid that carried it has long evaporated. Reading this book requires subtlety - look too hard at what you are reading and you may bring down its delicate structure, think too deeply ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Barry rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Williams
A book that beautifuly explores the awe in the mundane, that explores the characters in this one neighbourhood in England and follows them around as they go on about their lives. A marvellous book, but not for everyone. If anything, it will come across as boring to the average reader but it really is only an exercise of the quotidian. The novel leads up to this one main event at its end and it flicks on from the past to the present. It is a slow paced book, with the most detailed descriptions, b ...more
Dec 18, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Booker short-list
Shelves: fiction, british-lit
Beautiful story and great form. A reminder to all that within each person there is a uniqueness of experience. We can not be known by name or address or outward appearance alone. In each there lies love, tragedy, desperation. But until we speak of what we have lived and how we have lived and what that same life has shaped us into then we do not speak at all, especially of those beautiful, horrible, magical, lonely remarkable things.
Jul 04, 2013 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I really liked this. It took me a while to get used to the writing style, but about a third of the way through I was hooked. It was beautifully written and one that I would love to read again. I loved the way the book forced me to examine my own life and outlook, and I found reading this an almost cathartic experience. A very powerful book, yet simply written.
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things was the debut novel of Jon McGregor. It is told with a somewhat non-linear plot, and follows the lives of several mostly unnamed characters who all inhabit the same street in the North of England. At the same time, there is a second narrative following one of the inhabitants of this street in the future, where she discovers she is pregnant and reminisces about a terrible event that she witnessed in her old town years before.

I enjoyed this book for the most p
Apr 11, 2016 Deea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deea by: Dolors
In this non-conventional book the author talks about the everyday lives of the citizens of a certain neighborhood in the UK. He writes the phrases in such a way that everything these un-named characters do seems remarkable. Every single trivial action they do is written in such a poetic way as to seem remarkable. They don't have names (they are only identified by the number of the apartment they stay in or by certain features) and this anonymity seems to indicate that this story could apply to a ...more
Mark Hitchcock
Sep 20, 2011 Mark Hitchcock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of the best books I've ever read and one of the few I will definitely re-read.
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
Nov 05, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book, it has such a lot of the things that I traditionally love about reading but ultimately, it didn't hang together as well as I'd hoped. And it started so well too!

The good
- 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
Amanda Greer
Jan 27, 2014 Amanda Greer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: changed-my-life
Yes, this novel is about simple, mundane events. Yes, none of the characters are named. And yes, the novel is very sentimental. The one thing that it isn't is ironic. So many works of contemporary fiction are full to the brim with irony and satire. Jon McGregor's novel is completely sincere. Instead of subtly mocking the world and using analogies to critique society, McGregor finds a new and optimistic way to see the world. This novel teaches readers to stop for a moment. Take it all in. Enjoy e ...more
This really was a beautiful, unusual novel. And it's perfect for all of us who are just removed enough from college to remember what it feels like to be absolutely sure of what the future holds and how the nearness of such lofty goals has become a constant reminder of how far we're getting from where we wanted to be.

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
Jakey Gee
May 08, 2016 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This was his first novel, which I have finally got down to reading after raving about his more recent and pretty remarkable 'Even the Dogs'.

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
Roger Brunyate
May 19, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
Our Town

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.
The city, it sings.
If y
Books Ring Mah Bell
halfway done. delicious read.
go to your happy reading place and savor it.

(now watch the last half completely blow goats.)

Completed today. the second half was just as good. unique style and voice...
Jul 22, 2015 JK rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have heard people rave about this book like it was their own work of art. I really can't see what the fuss is all about with this one. There are some little nuances that I really enjoyed, but overall I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would (or, indeed, how much I'd been told I would).

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,
Nina Milton
Nov 10, 2014 Nina Milton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things: Glints of Gold.

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
Jennifer D
this was a really frustrating read. i could see what mcgregor was trying to do, but it just didn't work for me. there were beautiful moments but the inconsistency of the prose and the excessive (and sometimes awful) use of simile and metaphor was distracting and, at times, painful to read. i knew where the story was headed before it got there, so i feel like this device - the slow reveal - wasn't successful. i also felt as though the voices for each of the characters - all residents on one secti ...more
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What's The Name o...: Day in the life of several characters on English street, ends in tragedy [s] 3 28 Sep 15, 2014 04:49PM  
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Jon McGregor is a British author who has written three novels. His first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things was nominated for the 2002 Booker Prize, and was the winner of both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award in 2003. So Many Ways to Begin was published in 2006 and was on the Booker prize long list. His newest novel, Even the Dogs was published in 2010.
More about Jon McGregor...

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“You must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. There are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?” 97 likes
“If you listen, you can hear it.
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.”
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