Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things

Rate this book
In this Booker Prize–nominated “dream of a novel,” ordinary middle-class lives converge and collide one summer day in England ( The Times ).

In delicate, intricately observed close-up, this novel makes us privy to the private lives of residents of a quiet street over the course of a single day.

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things explores the hopes, fears, and unspoken despairs of a diverse a single father with painfully scarred hands; a group of young club-goers just home from an all-night rave, sweetly high and mulling over vague dreams; and the nervous young man at number 18 who collects weird urban junk and is haunted by the specter of unrequited love. What eventually unites them is an utterly surprising and terrible twist of fate that shatters their everyday, ordinary tranquility, and all that they take for granted.

A prose poem of a novel with a mystery at its center that “recalls To The Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway ” ( The Times ), If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things was the recipient of the Somerset Maugham Award and the Betty Trask Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times.

275 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jon McGregor

36 books760 followers
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. Even the Dogs was published in 2010, and his newest work, Reservoir 13, was published in April 2017.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,336 (33%)
4 stars
3,541 (35%)
3 stars
2,169 (21%)
2 stars
677 (6%)
1 star
307 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,038 reviews
Profile Image for Dolors.
541 reviews2,282 followers
September 15, 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 pretence of narcotized routine and marvel at Mcgregor’s prowess in bringing this subject matter to attention with perplexing intonation and mould breaking narrative.

A chain of quotidian scenes are framed in frozen stillness, Polaroid-like, assembling tiny details of anonymous and seemingly disconnected lives to create the disparate mosaic of any given neighbourhood in a city of Northern England. Twins playing cricket on the street, a little girl chasing angels, college students moving out and facing uncertain futures, an elderly couple about to celebrate their wedding anniversary, young and not so young lovers giving free reign to passion on a humid evening, an introvert boy who collects all sort of useless objects, a father whose blotched hands can’t feel the texture of his daughter’s hair. Lives rekindled, burnt and extinguished in absolute otherness, glittering with the vertigo of banality and transcendence, ignored by the indifferent eye deeply anchored to self-absortion.
Some years later, a woman who was part of the unpremeditated symphony of everyday coexistence in the aforesaid community summons her memories of that fateful evening while facing major disruption in her current life.

Alternate chapters interlace past and present and knit a thorough map of inconsequential details that could have changed the course of other people’s paths in giving shape to unuttered secrets and yearnings, stillborn promises and unspoken fears that locked opportunity in the trap of perfidious forlonness.
The misshapen pieces are delivered at a steady pace escalating in suspicion and trepidation, combining mellifluous prose magnified by the peculiar tonality of Mcgregor’s choice of words that slowly gathers momentum in a progressively frenzied cadence until the puzzle becomes whole in a culminating explosion of mystical significance.
And the remarkable things that are never spoken out loud: the tragedies of daily life, the latent loneliness, the inexorable foreboding, what is never said and others don’t see... cristalyze into a mirror in which the reader can contemplate himself.
And every minutiae shines under Mcgregor’s omniscient magic wand instrumenting a succession of recurrent themes, pattern of symbols and repeated sentences that evoke a mollifying chant and bemuse in almost supernatural revelation.
And ineffectual prose emerges as the self-defining mediatrix between reality and the inexplicable mysteries of bare existence.

What for some might appear a far-fetched closure for a highly unconventional novel was for me a hair-raising tribute to the magic illusion that remains hidden underneath the mask of daily ordinariness. One only needs to stand still in the middle of any street after a virulent summer storm and listen to the muggy silence, the tentative twittering of birds, find the remarkable things in-between and believe.

“He says, 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.”
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,062 reviews496 followers
December 18, 2020
I rated this book 4 stars in order to overcome I believe a bias lurking in my subconscious. 😐

After about 30 pages or so I wrote this in my notes: I remember this — she has cancer I do believe. I think somebody falls from a window.

I think I read this book before. It was published in 2002. I have no record of having read it, but I really think I read it before. So I was pissed off at myself after this point, because “I have to read this all over again because I can’t remember how it turned out. Grrrr. What a waste of my time.”
Such were my thoughts. So while reading parts of this book I was annoyed at the author for making me re-read his novel. 😮

Well that’s not really fair to the author. Just because my memory is a sieve, I should not blame the book. So rather than give 3 stars, which I was going to give (in my rating system 3 stars is a positive review), I’m upping to 4 stars. In addition, I may also have a positive bias because I was enthralled this fall when I read his “Reservoir 13” and “The Reservoir Tapes”.

I don’t think this novel is as good as those books (that are related to each other), but still I think this is an impressive effort by the author.

There are three story lines in the novel as far as I can discern:
1. A group of people in an apartment complex are supposed to witness an event which will be seared into their memories. It may not have altered the psyche of the UK or the city in which this novel takes place, but it is momentous. After all, as one of the apartment dwellers, a man with horribly burned hands, tells his daughter, “…if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?”
2. The event is one thing, and a second story line is what is going on in the ordinary prosaic lives of the dwellers of the apartment complex (numbered from flat number 11 to 22 I do believe). They may not be remarkable things but still we get to peek in on their lives. More often than not, people do not have names in this novel — rather they are referred to by the number flat they live at (e.g., “In the back room of number seventeen”…”The woman at number 19”).
3. There is the story of an unnamed women in her early 20s and her mother and father, and the young man who dwelt in flat number 18, Michael, and his brother. That is probably the main part of the novel.

So, the way McGregor has structured the novel is interesting and I think rather unique. Certainly his prose is. I felt an unease while reading this (i.e., the event binding these people together is not going to be happy)…I kept on thinking protagonist X or Y or Z was going to be the unfortunate person who experienced the event at the end of the book. Anyhoo, I won’t say whether the event indeed was unfortunate or not as that would be a spoiler, now wouldn’t it? 🙃

In closing, one of the things that really make me negatively disposed towards a novel is whether I, while reading, am suddenly roused from the character’s lives that I am reading about and realize that I am reading made-up stuff from the author. But isn’t that what a novel is? Yes, but the wonder of novels is that, if we allow it, we can enter other alternative worlds while reading. That is, I come to believe what I am reading is real. This novel did the trick — I believed in all the characters. And that is good.

Oh yes, and I was close to tears twice while reading the novel.

• In 2003, McGregor won both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award.
• This was on the 2002 Booker prize longlist.

• For a blogsite: https://triumphofthenow.com/2013/10/2...
Profile Image for Greg.
1,117 reviews1,876 followers
August 25, 2008
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 lay down on the cigarette littered ground of Woodside Memorial Park and beat my fists and cry till one of the old men chatting would across the way would come over and tell me it's ok, there will be other books, and sometimes the authors make poor decisions at the end, but you can still remember the two hundred and something good pages that came before. Instead though I pulled myself together, and decided to keep my composure and tried to figure a way to continue drudging through this life where great books can fall apart with only a page or so left.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,947 followers
August 22, 2010
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 them on this ordinary day, they become real and vivid and sometimes heartbreakingly lovable. I was especially touched by the tenderness of the old couple who had married just before the husband went off to war. I confess, I was blubbering when he came back from the war and his wife said, "There's no need to shout. I'm standing right behind you."

This book is event driven rather than plot driven. The one day described here is a day that leads up to an event that all of the characters will witness. The book-long buildup to the event does get exasperating at times, so impatient readers beware.

Alternating with the day's progression is a second component of the narrative. One of the witnesses to "the event" describes her life three years after that day. Uncomfortable circumstances in her present life have caused her to reflect on what she witnessed and how it has affected her life since then.

Given the amazing buildup, the book's conclusion is somewhat wimpy and also sort of freaky. So don't hold your breath for a "shocking" ending. Read it for the intimacy with the characters and for the author's extraordinary powers of description.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,487 reviews843 followers
September 18, 2023
“He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?

He looks at her and he knows she doesn’t understand, he doesn’t think she’ll even remember it to understand when she is older. But he tells her these things all the same, it is good to say them aloud, they are things people do not think and he wants to place them into the air.”

I don’t know how many characters there are in this (I didn’t count), but they are all neighbours on a street in England. They are going about their business, looking out of doors and windows and occasionally into each other’s. Nobody is actually spying, well, with a few exceptions.

“In the street outside, the twins from number nineteen are peering into the front window of number twenty, the slightly older one balanced on a pair of bricks to see better, looking through a small gap in the curtains.”

But we are all curious when we hear a shout, or riotous laughter and loud music and see people fighting or partying. Even without that, in addition to the sounds of nature, there is some noise everywhere, all night long.

“Road-menders mending, choosing the hours of least interruption, rupturing the cold night air with drills and jack-hammers and pneumatic pumps, hard-sweating beneath the fizzing hiss of floodlights, shouting to each other like drummers in rock bands calling out rhythms, pasting new skin on the veins of the city.”

As the people wake up, we learn that some are acquainted with each other, maybe just to nod to, and some are friends. There are young singles who are packing up to move out, their leases expired. There’s an old couple who have made their home there for years. Some are in small rooms, and some are in larger homes.

All of them are caught by the author on the day of the event. This is hinted at only with references like this.

“He was the first to move, the boy from number eighteen.
He was up and across the street before anyone had blinked,
before anyone had made a sound.
It was as if he knew what he had to do, as if he’d been
waiting for the opportunity.
He moved off the doorstep like a loaded sprinter, and by
the time I turned to see who it was he was there.
He was there and then it was over, and it was so sudden that
I felt as though a camera flash had exploded in my face.
Everything went white, ghostly, like old news footage,
faded and stained.
I couldn’t understand what was happening, I couldn’t
believe what was happening.
I sat there, in the warm afternoon of the last day of summer,
and I couldn’t work out what I was seeing.
I watched him moving across the street, the boy from
number eighteen, and I tried to understand.”

McGregor’s writing is poetic, but never annoyingly or cloyingly so. He moves between the people and their back stories, all of them in the third person with one exception. I’m not sure why she was singled out, but the girl who goes to Aberdeen to her mother’s funeral tells her part of the story in the first person. Speaking to us, she says:

“Telephone conversations with my mother are never very easy.
There always seems to be a weighting inside them, things left unspoken, things not fully spoken.
She says things gently and discreetly, carefully holding back her full implication.
Like holding playing cards against her chest.
When I told her about my latest new job she said that sounds very nice and what other opportunities have you been looking at?
She says things like, I don’t think you’re making full use of your degree, my love.
She says things like, it doesn’t sound as though you’re stretching yourself.
She doesn’t say what the hell kind of a job is that, or what are you actually doing with your life here?
I wonder if I wish she would.”

She has kept all of her concerns to herself until she meets a young man to whom she opens up a bit, and she tells us:

“I said that I didn’t know what to do.
I said all of this very quietly, and I was amazed to hear the words coming out at all, like butterflies wriggling through net curtains.”

I have tried to copy these in the same style in which they were printed in a hard copy. They are sometimes in paragraphs, but they are often broken into single sentences. It’s a way of carrying the eye along so you don’t get bogged down in exposition.

One old man, on the day of the event, has come back from the doctor’s office with bad news, which he refuses to tell his wife. Instead, he makes tea. Tea is often used with all of these characters as a sort of social lubricant.

“He slips a tea-cosy over the pot and stands by the window a moment.
He sees a young man sitting on the front garden wall of number seven, one of the foreign students it looks like, holding a pad of large paper, staring at the houses opposite.
He sees a dog trotting along the middle of the road, a bald patch across one shoulder, an unevenness in its stride.
He sees a construction crane rising up above the houses away to the right, a few streets away, stretching its neck over the rooftops like an anglepoise lamp.”

We have observed these other people before, through different windows, but each person puts their own interpretation on relationships and on the event (which we do find out about eventually).

I could go on forever. I won’t. This was McGregor's debut novel, which I find hard to believe. It was also nominated for the Booker Prize, which I completely understand. I loved one of his later novels, Reservoir 13, and this is joining it as one of my favourites. They are similar in style in that there are lots of people, loosely but wonderfully connected.

I love it!

If you're interested in my review of Reservoir 13 (another Booker longlist nominee), it's here. Link to my review of Reservoir 13
Profile Image for Issicratea.
213 reviews378 followers
February 25, 2018
I read this novel as a follow-up to Jon McGregor’s superb Reservoir 13, which was my standout contemporary read of 2017. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (henceforth INSoRT) was McGregor’s first novel, published in 2002, when he was twenty-six years old and a complete unknown. It put him straight on the literary map when it was longlisted for the Booker Prize, as an out-of-left-field choice.

I didn’t read INSoRT at the time, and I’m not too sure I would have liked it if I did, although it’s impressive as a debut novel. There’s a certain studenty earnestness about it, and a degree of overelaboration and straining for effect. The themes are self-consciously weighty (birth, death, the human condition), in such a way that they often crush the relatively thinly imagined human figures who serve as vehicles for them. There is some beautiful writing locally (a character’s extended, tender, observant reminiscence of his grandfather’s death stood out for me), but it didn’t really engage me overall.

Considered per se, then, this was a relative failure for me, but what made it a fascinating experience was that I was reading it with Reservoir 13 in mind as a constant point of comparison. The two novels have marked similarities. Both are choral in character and focused on place. They attempt to portray individuals, but also entire communities, and individuals as parts of communities: one of the great themes of nineteenth-century fiction (think Middlemarch), but often left to soap operas in our own, more atomistic age. Reservoir 13 takes as its setting and subject-matter a small Peak District village visited by tragedy. INSoRT has a smaller canvas: a somewhat run-down street in a Northern town.

Both novels weave together a large number of narrative threads, each centered on a character or group of characters, in the style of a medieval romance or a modern soap opera. The difference in Reservoir 13 is that the texture of the interweaving is much denser; each narrative is given only a few sentences, in the middle of long, chapter-length, unbroken macro-paragraphs. Another difference is that, in Reservoir 13, MacGregor—rather magically—broadens his purview beyond humans to the animal, bird, plant, and insect life that surrounds them, often unnoticed, and the cycles of the weather and the seasons.

A further, very notable difference between the two novels is that, by the time of Reservoir 13, Macgregor has learned the art of concealing his art. INSoRT signals its epiphanies and narrative twists in what can sometimes be a gauchely portentous way. Reservoir 13, by contrast, almost throws these moments away in the flow of its prose, so that you are sometimes stopped in your tracks, trying to take in and process what you have just read. For anyone with an interest in the mechanics of fiction, reading these two novels together is an inspiring lesson in how a talented young writer can become a great middle-aged one, by keeping to the same essential formula, but refining and disciplining his art.
Profile Image for Intellectual_Thighs.
239 reviews378 followers
July 22, 2021
Μετά την περσινή ταραχή με τον Ταμιευτήρα 13 του ΜακΓκρέγκορ, έπιασα το πρώτο του βιβλίο, που έγραψε στα 26 και πλέον αισθάνομαι ότι με τον Τζον είμαστε κωλλητάρια που αν πίναμε μαζί ένα βράδυ θα κουνούσαμε μόνο το κεφάλι καταφατικά κοιτάζοντας βαθιά ο ένας τα ελαφρώς βουρκωμένα μάτια του άλλου.

Θα ξεφυσούσα το φανταστικό μου τσιγάρο (δεν καπνίζω) και θα του λεγα, Τζον, ξέρεις τι μου αρέσει σε σένα; Που παίρνεις ένα προβολάκι και το στρέφεις στη στιγμή. Μια τοσοδούλα στιγμή και της δίνεις αξία. Και με κάνεις να σκέφτομαι για τη ζωή και τη σπουδαιότητα όλων των μικρών στιγμών, που άλλοτε κορυφώνονται κι άλλοτε παραμένουν ήσυχες μα πάντα σημαντικές, σημαντικές γιατί τις μοιραζόμαστε συνειδητά ή όχι με ανθρώπους, φτιάχνοντας ψηφίδα ψηφίδα ένα ψηφιδωτό που στο σύνολό του έχει κάποιο νόημα και λέγεται ζωή. Στιγμές χωρίς pause ή rewind, χωρίς πάγωμα οθόνης ή ζουμάρισμα, που τις καταχωνιάζουμε μέσα μας τόσο απλά όσο κρύβουμε με κουρτίνες το καθιστικό από τους περαστικούς, σπουδαίες στιγμές που συμβαίνουν μπροστά στα μάτια μας, αλλά τα μάτια μας καμιά φορά έχουν σύννεφα και η ζωή γίνεται άχρωμη γιατί δεν τις βλέπουμε όπως είναι. Κι αν δεν μιλάμε για αυτές τις σπουδαίες στιγμές, αυτά τα σπουδαία πράγματα, τότε τι τα λέμε σπουδαία;

Εναλλαγή τριτοπρόσωπης-πρωτοπρόσωπης αφήγησης, με μια ολοζώντανη πρόζα που θυμίζει σε σημεία στίχους του Παυλίδη, λυρική αλλά οικεία και αληθινή, κουβέντα που θα άκουγες στο διπλανό τραπέζι, μια μέρα στις ζωές των κατοίκων ενός συνηθισμένου δρόμου μιας συνηθισμένης γειτονιάς, ανώνυμοι συγκάτοικοι που συμβάλλουν με τις ψηφίδες τους φτιάχνοντας μια ιστορία, που κορυφώνεται σε μια κακή στιγμή. Κακιά στιγμή λέμε κάτι δυσάρεστο που συμβαίνει και μας υπερβαίνει, σαν να φτιάχνουν μονοπάτι άλλες στιγμές που θα οδηγήσουν εκεί και τα βήματα είναι συγκεκριμένα και μοναδικά, κακιά στιγμή είναι αυτή που δεν έχουμε λόγο πάνω της.

Και καταφέρνεις Τζον, θα του έλεγα, να μας βάζεις μέσα στην ιστορία σου γιατί σταδιακά και ύπουλα γινόμαστε μέρος των στιγμών της, καταφέρνεις -μέχρι να το ξεχάσουμε πάλι- να κλείσουμε το βιβλίο και να προσέξουμε την ψηφίδα, σπουδαίο πράγμα moraqi. Τσιρζ. Θα του λεγα.
Profile Image for Neil.
1,007 reviews651 followers
September 8, 2017
A strangely apposite time to read this book. Of the two main threads in the novel, one takes place on the last day of summer in 1997 which is the day Princess Diana died. In recent days in the UK, that has been in the media a lot as it was twenty years ago and various remembrances have taken place. Whatever your views of Princess Diana, this means that most people reading this book will have a recollection of things that happened to them on that day. I remember learning about the accident because it was a weekend and we used to let our children go downstairs to watch TV in the mornings so we could lie in (I know what you are all thinking!). When one of them came upstairs to tell us they couldn’t find their programmes, I went down to see and every channel was showing coverage of the same event.

McGregor has said that this novel began partly as a book about the reaction to the death of Diana. In some ways, it is similar to his Booker 2017 listed novel Reservoir 13 in that it shows life going on despite the "remarkable things" happening around the people. To be clear, the book does not talk about the death of Diana - that is not one of the "remarkable things".

The writing is very poetic. You can get a feel for the style from the very first words:

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 a 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 is 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.

And that’s what McGregor then sets out to do: pick out each note. An omniscient narrator pans up and down the street visiting the people in the houses and exploring their actions, thoughts and feelings. It is clear McGregor wants us to hear every note and he captures a lot of details for us to make us aware of what is happening. We learn early on that something dramatic happens. This makes this novel very different to Reservoir 13. In Reservoir 13, something dramatic has happened to start the book but it is never resolved. In this novel, we are aware that something dramatic is going to end the book and we work our way towards it.

There’s a second thread to the story, set some years later, one of the residents of the street receives her own unsettling news and, as she works to come to terms with that, she has cause to look back to that day.

The two storylines develop in alternating sections which, I think, works well.

The majority of the book doesn’t feel like a book. It’s like a camera panning up and down the street, zooming into houses to pick out a detail, zooming back out to move to another house, going back to houses to see what has developed since we were last there. It is very visual. None of the characters is named (well, one is right at the end) and that can make it tricky to latch on to some of them as you have to remember which number they live at or what their particular physical appearance is that separates them from all the other residents. But you do quickly get into the swing of that.

I enjoyed a lot of the language, even the funny speech with no quotation marks and a lot of incomplete sentences (trying to mirror the way we do actually talk a lot of the time: we don’t always finish sentences, we change our minds halfway through, we say things like i just and then stop because we aren’t sure how to say the next bit). But it did feel a bit over-the-top at times, like everything was turned up to 11 all the way through.

I don’t want to post spoilers, but I’m really not sure what I think about the ending. It was one of those "Hang on. All the way through you’ve been telling us x - but hinting that x might not be the full story - and now you say it’s actually y" moments. It definitely fits the “remarkable” label and it comes out of nowhere. But I’m not sure I liked it.

Some beautiful prose-poetry. Some interesting observations about life in an northern-English town. A debut novel that shows that McGregor is going to develop into a talented writer. And Reservoir 13 demonstrates that he has, indeed, developed. For me, Reservoir 13 is far more worthy of its place on the Man Booker Longlist that this novel is, even though this is far from a bad book. It’s just not a great book. It's just my opinion!
Profile Image for Paula Mota.
1,033 reviews320 followers
October 18, 2021

Quando li este livro pela primeira vez, mais no início do século, não sabia que Jon McGregor se tinha inspirado na inesperada e trágica morte da Princesa Diana nem que vencera o Somerset Maugham Award, o que seria um excelente cartão-de-visita para mim, se não o tivesse comprado antes pelos rasgados elogios que recebeu pelo seu neo-modernismo.
McGregor leva-nos em capítulos alternados por duas narrativas paralelas: a da rua como um colectivo e a da rapariga do nº 22 que, integrando o colectivo, surge mais individualizada, com uma história e uma perspectiva próprias. Na primeira, o autor segue vários habitantes de uma rua, entrando-lhes por casa como uma câmara num filme, permitindo-nos vislumbrar alguns momentos e diálogos entre as personagens que não são identificadas pelo nome, mas antes pelo número da porta em que vivem, com o complemento da descrição física para que o leitor nunca se perca.

Passa a correr pelo velhote da casa seguinte, ele está no jardim e o som da sua respiração é como se alguém estivesse a soprar ar através de uma harmónica rachada.
Passa a correr pelo jovem que esfrega os ténis, ele ainda não está a conseguir limpá-los e bate com a mão na água, de frustração, as bolhas erguendo-se no ar e esvoaçando como confetti de diamante.
Atravessa a rua a correr, em direcção a uma mulher que está debruçada de uma janela de águas-furtadas, a pendurar um cobertor vermelho, sacudindo-o como um semáforo.

Na outra narrativa, ficamos a conhecer uma rapariga que tem um segredo que quer contar a alguém e recorda aquele “último dia de verão”, 31 de Agosto, quando um acidente, mencionado no início mas somente revelado no final, veio marcar a vida de todos os moradores.
É uma obra muito satisfatória a nível conceptual mas que não deixa de ter uma componente emocional bem explorada, especialmente quando se foca no casal de idosos do nº 20.

Entre todos, ele próprio e os restantes homens da sua unidade, conseguiam cavar centenas de sepulturas num dia, espalhados por um campo como agricultores, as pás erguendo-se e abatendo-se em uníssono, o capelão de pé ao lado de cada um, à vez, nomeando o cadáver quando podia, recomendando cada rosto inexpressivo à companhia dos santos enquanto a terra o exortava a calar-se e caía novamente no buraco. (...) E ele não conseguia dizer-lhe que libertou a Europa com uma pá.
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
617 reviews768 followers
July 31, 2014
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, there is too much to know and I don't know where to begin but I want to try.

Where to begin. That silent stillness between the end of night and the break of the new day. A fateful moment at the end of the day, where time stands still, locked in horror, and one unlikely movement can cross the divide.

And before that moment there is an ordinary day. A day when people of a street in a Northern town of England come home from a night out, go to bed, get up, make tea, hang out washing, quarrel, make love, make tea, celebrate a wedding anniversary, make tea, wash the car, play cricket, go shopping, make tea. How tedious? Too much information, and some of it seems a bit, you know, less important? Strangely, no. Strangely mesmeric, absorbing. In fact I sat out in the sun and read it straight through, caught up in the poetry, drawn in by the poignancy of the man who could never explain to his wife why he can't join her digging the allotment, nor tell her the reason for those doctor's appointments, the gentle regret at the young girl who realizes that the relationship she's in will go nowhere, they haven't spoken about it, they haven't said what will we do when we leave here, do you want to come with me, let's work something out, and she knows that this means they will quickly and easily drift apart, into other people's lives, into other people's arms in rooms like this. She's neither surprised, nor particularly regretful, she feels only a kind of anticipatory nostalgia. And the gasp when a few pages later the young man that she is preparing to let go closes his eyes in sweet anticipation of the weeks and months, maybe years to come: They haven't made their plans yet, they're not sure what they'll be doing or where they'll be, but he knows they'll be spending their nights enclosed together like this, he knows he can take that much for granted. The fact that they haven't even needed to discuss it makes it all the sweeter, like it's a given, as natural as a cup of tea in the morning, or a shared cigarette.
Mismatch of expectations. Disconnectedness. Twins play a role; one of one pair tells us it isn't like what people think, they aren't telepathic or anything, but we've always been very close, we've always known most stuff about each other.
Connected he says, like we're connected.
And then he pulls a face and wipes his forehead with his hand and he says well less disconnected than other people at least.

So, a novel of mindfulness perhaps. But then, and maybe because I did read it straight through, it began to feel like a sticky toffee pudding, a little cloying on the tongue. The man with the burnt hands, that was well, a bit too much. And then the ending. Well, I'm not going to spoil it for you. I have to acknowledge the audaciousness of the ending, but for me, it did not work. A risk, but a foolish one. McGregor can spin gold, but it all turned back to straw at the end.

I would read more by him though. I would.

Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,823 reviews1,388 followers
December 21, 2020
I came to this book many years after its publication after reading McGregor’s latest brilliant book Reservoir 13, and was interested to read his debut novel (also Booker longlisted like 3 of his four novels to date).

What I found interesting was to contrast the two books

Loaded Gun: One of the most fascinating aspects of “Reservoir 13” is that is starts with what seems to be the obvious plot point – the disappearance of the teenage girl – and, in contrast to normal fictional practice, never attempts to resolve it. As McGregor says, he set out to play with normal expectations “it’s like if you have a gun on the table, it has to be fired by the third act”. In this book by contrast, we gradually realise that some form of event occurred and the book builds up to the resolution of it. When it is finally revealed it turns out to be a bigger event than we (or even any of those involved) realised - and in fact truly "remarkable"

Chronology: Reservoir 13 concentrates on two main time scales – the passing of time over the years, and the seasonality and rhythm of time within each year. This book by contrast is half set over the course of a single day at the end of Summer, and half over a few days several years later.

Events (dear boy): Reservoir 13’s is all about ordinary life and bringing out the patterns, repetition and seasonal rituals within it – this book concentrates on a “remarkable” day which affects the lives of those involved in it for ever. While Reservoir 13 starts with an unusual event, the impact of which dampens away over time, this book culminates in an unusual event, and leads up to it by directly examining the impact of the event on the lives of not just those involved, but even the indirect impact on others.

Narrative voice: Reservoir 13 deliberately uses a passive voice of an omniscient narrator to capture the nature of an English village “it was noted that ….”. This book uses a mix of first person and third party point of view present tense, told strictly from the viewpoint of the person whose point of view we are in, and enabling us to capture something of their thoughts, feelings and secrets but also how little they understand of the thoughts, feelings and secrets not just of their anonymous neighbours but often even those close to them.

Nature: In Reservoir 13, animals and plant life are as much part of the village as its human inhabitants, this book is an urban world where traffic noise forms the urban landscape.

Use of names: One of the more striking aspects of Reservoir 13 is the copious character list, each introduced by name, whose descriptions and characters gradually emerge over time. In this book by contrast, names are almost never used, every character is known by a verbal description of their appearance or behaviour (which is how they are largely known to each other) – even the narrator of the “present day” first party sections only gradually becomes clear to us as the character in the “remarkable day” third party descriptions. Michael is clearly shocked that the (unnamed narrator) does not know his brother’s name despite the brother’s obsession with her.

Community: Related to this – Reservoir 13 captures brilliantly the life of a small village, where everyone not only knows each other but knows each other’s history and family. By contrast this book concentrates (and captures equally brilliantly) a very different community – a street of short term lets (particularly students) who know almost nothing about each other and how lose contact almost immediately after they leave the street (so that the narrator knows nothing of the fate of Michael’s brother despite the presumably dramatic discovery of it only a day or so after she leaves the street).
Profile Image for Alex Csicsek.
78 reviews4 followers
January 16, 2009
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, the author has a gift for creating real human beings whose flaws make the reader want to hug and wrap up in our arms and let them know they're safe for now. The minutiae of their actions constitute some of the most poignoint moments I have ever read - when the shy little girl points to the artist's drawing of their street and asks meekly asks "will the dog go there?", my heart melted. When the girl with short hair and glasses realizes two tea cups on a table can be a beautiful thing, I nearly cried.

This book is full of lovely characters doing those kinds of lovely things. I stood in awe of McGregor's ability to draw out the beauty and greatness in the most average of people. It's not only the people but the narratives in which they play: from the profoundly momentous to the profoundly mundane, McGregor reveals the importance in every moment of life in this excellent novel.

If nobody speaks of remarkable things then nobody will notice how remarkable they truly are. This novel speaks of the most ordinary things, and in doing so shows us they are quite simply remarkable.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,780 reviews1,458 followers
October 11, 2017
Before picking up this book you should know a few things.
- Punctuation is lacking.
- Characters are for the most part not given names.
- This is a mystery, a puzzle to be solved.

Due to lack of punctuation perhaps an audiobook is the format to choose? I am glad I did.

Characters are identified through their physical attributes, their behavioral ticks and the number of their lodging on a street in a town somewhere in northern England. A completely unremarkable town and unremarkable people. There is a family with mother and father, a daughter and twin boys. A kid on a tricycle. A girl with square glasses. A widower with scarred hands and his young daughter. A boy in his early twenties with dry, irritated eyes who takes photos, collects junk and records what he sees. An architect student. An elderly man with his wife; he is harboring a terrible secret. Up in an attic apartment, a couple in the throes of passion. A girl chasing angels, a bungee jumper, a guy cleaning his sneakers. We return over and over to the different characters and gradually learn bits about them. Why does the man have scarred hands? How did the shoe become dirty? What is the secret withheld? To untie the characters, to decipher who is who with only scant tidbits of information, takes work. I made a list of the house numbers and jotted down all that I learned about their respective residents.

This is a mystery. Something terrible has happened. We know this at the start. We watch as the day progresses and the event finally occurs. That day is August 31, 1997. We watch what happens on that day, watch what the residents of numbers 18 and 20 and 11 and 17 and 19 and 22 and 21 and 13 and 20 do. We spend five minutes here, a glance there, flitting from one person to another. This is a puzzle. There is suspense and the reader works to sort out who is who. And of course, we are guessing from the start what we think has happened. This thread is told by an omniscient narrator.

There is another thread. A woman there that day looks back and also tell us about her current situation, now three years later. This thread uses a first-person narrator. Her current predicament is tied to what happened on that day.

Both the characters and the events are presented as a mystery, a puzzle to be solved. Solving the puzzle takes work.

We watch and observe the people living their separate lives. Ordinary neighbors on a street. Then something happens. Look at the title. One may ask what is so remarkable about these people and their lives. My response would be that it is in the ordinary that the remarkable is to be found. I like this message.

The lines read as a prose poem. The writing is lyrical and contemplative. Besides the book’s message, it is the writing that drew me.

I was bored at times. For example, there is that guy cleaning a shoe, and we return to him again and again and he is still cleaning that shoe. I was annoyed at how information is teasingly revealed. I felt I was part of a game I didn’t want to play. I want to get close to characters. That does not happen here; we observe, we watch, we are on the outside. There is little dialog. That the woman speaking three years later is , but what lies ahead for her is indeed dependent on what happened that day.

Who it is that is a surprise. I guess that is a positive point, but on the other hand it is said and then the book is immediately over and there you sit. A very abrupt ending.

The audiobook is narrated by two. Matt Bates reads the information about the diverse residents on the street on that day the event takes place. He reads the lines of the omniscient narrator. This is very well done. He gives us a clear and sharp presentation of facts. I find his narration worthy of four stars. Melody Grove narrates the lines of the woman who three years later is looking back and telling us of her current situation. I found this presentation too calm, too unperturbed and sweet, but I could always understand what she said, and so have given her narration three stars.

I like the prose and the message of the book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
536 reviews
May 3, 2011
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 generically alike...and no one is anything like me. It makes me feel a little angry at Jon McGregor! No one speaks for everyone. Even his "outsiders" are so normalized as to be painted right out of existence.

There's only one truly significant event in the story, but the specifics of that event are withheld until the very end of the book. Apparently, McGregor is making the argument that the minute and unremarked upon details of one's day are truly remarkable (for some reason). And, perhaps, he's also trying to say that dramatic and unremarked upon events get drowned out by everyday minutia. And, yes, certainly, we're meant to notice all the little things that could possibly result in a (yet ambiguous) tragedy. In any case, the never ending minutia bored me to death! I just can't bring myself to care about the contents of Everyman's medicine cabinet. --Incidentally, there are entirely too many bathroom scenes in this book! Save some of the mystery, baby! I'm just sayin'.

And, that's not the only story element that's excruciatingly repetitive. There are the constant references to names and anonymity. And, the constant fake-outs. The narrative has so much back-tracking and ominous foreshadowing, you want to scream, "Someone just die, already!"...which is generally frowned upon in polite society...

Every so often I'll a see a negative goodreads review of a book that I love. The reviewer will say something like, "This was a whole lot of nothing. Who cares?" And, I'll think, "No, no, you don't get it! It's a multi-layered and poignant tale of...[well, usually alienation].

This book, to me, was a whole lot of nothing. But, maybe I just don't "get" contemporary literature!
Oh well.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,620 reviews986 followers
November 30, 2020
British writer Jon McGregor's debut novel, inspired by the death of Princess Diana and the multiplicity of related and unrelated things that occur in a day on a street. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is a microcosm of the days on on unnamed English street and that street's various inhabitants.

The book moves form resident to resident with a third party narrator describing their actions and inner worlds over the course the single day, the last day of Summer in 1997. These sections are inter-cut with first person narrated young woman character, who has recently discovered that she's pregnant and her story covers several days. The intertwining of these narrators and the woman's main story provide the suspense. This book notably won the prestigious Somerset Maugham Award, issued by the Society of Authors. 7 out of 23
Profile Image for Giedre.
57 reviews49 followers
April 6, 2016
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 of them, a girl with short blonde hair and square glasses, deeper, meeting her a few years later, and often jumping back to that ordinary remarkable day in her old neighborhood.

McGregor only presents us with tiny bits of a day-long fragment of the lives of the characters, and still it is enough to begin caring for them, to be drawn deep into their worlds, to learn of their personal dramas, so important to each of them, and of which the rest of the characters are totally oblivious.

I think I couldn't have loved this book more. The way the author presented the mundane as something so special and the fragility of our lives in such a subtle and poetic way, must have touched a sensitive spot in me. Simply beautiful.
Profile Image for Bill.
308 reviews312 followers
May 2, 2010
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 had read elsewhere on goodreads.i still think it is a very brave book, written in a very unconventional style.especially for a debut novel.
December 22, 2018
Discrete poetic whispers of moments. The means by which they connect or disconnect.

I cannot write a review now just finishing reading but possibly…no there is no future, only now and all there is to see, to know, to feel; to read and reread this book over and again. To live in this world. The moment of this world.

Without realizing I mouth the words as I read, chanting a somnambulistic prayer, a murmured choir, a pulse on its tremble of its next beat. Consciousness spreading, sharpening, honed to a cabalistic point. Is it possible for one to continue living the life one knew. The sealed casing of Kafka”s axe broken open wide.

Then the awe of the knitting needles twirling in blurred images, somehow holding it all together and with infinite care delicately purls the minute threading into its barely seen connecting pattern and a harsh gasp at the end.

So tempting to sweep up the scattered remains of an existence I once called my own and spend the afternoon resettling things back into place. The alternative is to move without packing. What looks like now an empty endless road with no markings to gain bearings. But what of the flutter of ghosts? Remarkable things happen; happen all the time, are happening right now; and now to live newly within them; guideless.
Profile Image for Jayne Charles.
1,045 reviews17 followers
August 4, 2011
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 tougher by the fact that the event central to the 'story' is withheld until the very end, stretching the reader's capacity to care about the nameless characters and their formless angst. To give the author his due, he can write very good poetic prose, and dreams up some interesting scenarios. The trouble is, it's all a bit Turner Prize. As though someone painted a brilliant picture, but instead of just framing it and letting people enjoy it, he scribbled all over it so it was impossible to see what was originally there.
Profile Image for Deea.
311 reviews88 followers
January 18, 2018
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 any neighborhood, to any side of our very busy cities.

Certain characters are very interesting: there is this boy who blinks a lot, who is totally in love with a girl from the neighborhood who doesn't even notice him. Although he seems to be a bit of a shy weirdo from outside, he is actually a very interesting character: passionate about archeology and anthropology, he would like to know all the humans better and he realizes that he doesn't even know the characters from his neighborhood well. In an attempt to see how an archeological-antropological study about his neighbors would look, he gathers objects and takes snapshots of his neighbors trying in this manner to know a bit of each one and to somehow make a bigger mental picture of the humans surrounding him.

The girl who is pregnant and befriends the boy described above's twin brother is also very interesting. She befriends Michael, the twin, only to have someone to hold on to. Her relationship with her parents is bizarre, even that with her friends is not very common. Her mother is bizarre as well and we are not revealed the reason why she had had such a bad relation with her own mother.

All the characters are interesting in their own way, but I will not talk about each of them here: they are all scarred somehow, some visibly (the father with the burned hands who didn't manage to save his wife from a fire), others invisibly (the old man who has a terminal lung disease and doesn't tell his wife in order to protect her, the mother of the pregnant girl who was relieved at her mother's death). If no one speaks of remarkable things, they seem not even to be there. Our neighbors seem like the pawns on a chess-table: characters whom we don't know at all, whose individuality doesn't exist in our mind. However, they all live, love, suffer, have pains, endure losses, are governed by emotions and each external stimulus has a certain different impact on all of them. The author managed to create a central event (the accident) and to study its impact on the people of a neighborhood to whose members the reader has intimately been introduced. I think this is amazing: it's like managing to extract the historical facts of an event after having gathered all the archaeological proofs and putting them together.
Profile Image for Ian Kirkpatrick.
54 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2012
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 a series of Polaroid snapshots, each slowly becoming clear to the reader, as you piece together the events of a seemingly unremarkable day. The multiple narration where the same event is seen through the filter of different eyes creates a series of repeating echoes with a cinematic sweep of motifs and images.

The tone is carefully measured throughout, and McGregor deliberately chooses to avoid inverted commas for speech marks. In fact he seems to have a bit of an aversion towards punctuation generally.

The structure interweaves the main first person unnamed narrator in the present (a girl facing her own personal crisis) back to the events of this specific Sunday. Each character is described rather than being given a name which creates a deliberate sense of detachment and anonymity, and forces the reader to really concentrate to remember who’s who, which is quite a clever ploy.

Some reviewers have criticised the resultant sense of emotional detachment, but this seems to rather miss the point. I found the book completely mesmeric and entrancing. I am certain I’ll be re-reading it again. As a piece of writing I think it’s a truly remarkable achievement.
Profile Image for Paul Dembina.
437 reviews92 followers
August 14, 2020
I've only read a couple of books by Mr McGregor, I've enjoyed both. This has a lot of similarities to Reservoir 13 in that there's a large cast of characters living on the same street - all connected by a terrible event. The language is plain and simple but can develop a lot of emotional heft via understatement. None of the people are named (with one vital exception) but are identified by identifying characteristics. There's a twist right at the very end which although it works I don't think was strictly necessary.
On balance I prefer Reservoir 13 but would still recommend this one
Profile Image for Alexandra.
101 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2013
Κάποιος χρησιμοποίησε τη λέξη "υπέροχο" και με έκανε να διαβάσω αυτό το βιβλίο. Εγώ θα χρησιμοποιήσω τη λέξη "ιδιαίτερο". Κινηματογραφικές περιγραφές, εστίαση στην παραμικρή λεπτομέρεια, ανείπωτες σκέψεις. Εικόνες τόσο ζωντανές, που νόμιζα πως ήμουν κι εγώ εκεί, στη γειτονιά που συνέβησαν όλα.
1,644 reviews92 followers
July 14, 2017
This book had so little in the way of plot or character development (in fact, we never learn the name of nearly everyone) that I am not sure it qualifies as a novel. I am surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Maybe the relatively short length kept me from losing patience with the highly descriptive tone of it. This is the account of one late summer day in the lives of the residents on a block of flats. I felt like a voyeur as the literary camera swung into flat after flat exposing the actions and thoughts of these people. With the exception of one character, these lives are narrated in the omniscient third person, but without back story, we are only given the actions and thoughts of the present moment. The first person narrative exception is told from a few days or weeks beyond this date and notifies the reader that some dramatic event took place, dividing the day into before and after. I am not sure what the “remarkable things” of the title refers to. Is it the dramatic event which looms over the pages, unseen by its inhabitants? Is it the pivotal moments of birth and death, of love and loss unfolding on this ordinary street in such ordinary lives, the mother who cannot speak of her childhood to her adult daughter, the husband of many years who could never speak of his war experience, the man who keeps his cancer diagnosis secret from his wife? Is it the abundant moments of stunning beauty, of jaw-dropping awe that most of us fail to even notice: birds flying in perfect formation, light refracted through water droplets, a woman checking on her sleeping children in the wee hours of the morning, a young father dressing his toddler with hands scarred beyond use by a fire? The writing was so vivid that I saw, heard, smelt and felt every bit of this day, held fast by some inexplicable power.
Profile Image for Laala Kashef Alghata.
Author 2 books66 followers
February 25, 2010
“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 between the people living on the street, showing us insight into their lives, and how different and diverse, yet very human we all are. From the very beginning, we are aware that this day (the accounts are from one day) ended with a horrible occurrence, but we aren’t told what it is until the very end, thus casting a dark cloud over all the events.

I loved reading this because of McGregor’s style. It’s very poetic, very descriptive, and frequently feels like he has personally read your mind and put some of your thoughts into writing. It’s a book that made me want to read more of the author, that made me believe once again that beautiful, poetic prose is possible in a novel.
Profile Image for Manuela M.
20 reviews
June 13, 2010
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 entrancing.
In general, there is great attention to detail, which makes one feel as if they are part of the book, the plot, as if on is the character described.

An extraordinary look at how an ordinary day can cary so many remarkable moments. very beautiful.
Profile Image for Evripidis Gousiaris.
229 reviews100 followers
April 8, 2021
Από την πρώτη του σελίδα, το βιβλίο υπόσχεται κάτι Σπουδαίο!

Αυτό που ξεχωρίζει αμέσως, είναι ο κινηματογραφικός τρόπος αφήγησης που χρησιμοποιεί ο Jon McGregor. Αισθάνεσαι ότι παρακολουθείς ταινία ή ένα slideshow φωτογραφιών που, όμως, μόνο το κείμενο και το ύφος του συγγραφέα μπορεί να μεταδώσει τόσα συναισθήματα.

Ο τίτλος υπόσχεται Σπουδαία Πράγματα. Πολλές φορές κατά την διάρκεια της ανάγνωσης αναρωτήθηκα "Τι είναι τελικά ένα σπουδαίο πράγμα;" και οι σελίδες του βιβλίου συνεχώς απαντούσαν το παραπάνω ερώτημα.

Οι σελίδες αυτές, ενώ υπάρχουν βιβλία που σε ταξιδεύουν σε όλο τον κόσμο, μετέφεραν ΟΛΟ τον κόσμο μόνο σε μια γειτονιά. Ο πληθυσμός περιορίζεται μόνο στους κατοίκους συγκεκριμένων διαμερισμάτων. Η καθημερινότητα τους, ολόκληρη η Ιστορία. Κάθε τους κίνηση, σκέψη, μυστικό ένα Σπουδαίο γεγονός.

Καθημερινά γεγονότα τα οποία ο Jon McGregor παρουσιάζει σαν μια κινηματογραφική εμπειρία σε χαρτί. Ο φακός της κάμερας μετακινείται συνεχώς από διαμέρισμα σε διαμέρισμα, εστιάζει σε συγκεκριμένες κινήσεις και πολλές φορές νιώθεις ότι το βίντεο είναι σε αργή κίνηση. Ο φακός συνεχίζει να εστιάζει μέχρι που η εικόνα παγώνει εντελώς. Διαβάζεις προτάσεις, παραγράφους, σελίδες και ο χρόνος παραμένει παγωμένος ενώ εσύ βιώνεις παρατεταμένα την ίδια στιγμή -πλέον αιωνιότητα- από πολλά σημεία. Δεν υπάρχει παρελθόν ούτε μέλλον. Μόνο ένα αιώνιο παρόν το οποίο όποτε θελήσει ο συγγραφέας θα επαναφέρει στην κανονική ροή του χρόνου.

Το ολοκλήρωσα σε μια ημέρα και όμως νιώθω ότι η ανάγνωση διήρκεσε παραπάνω, χωρίς ωστόσο να μπορώ να προσδιορίσω το πόσο. Το βιβλίο επηρεάζει την αίσθηση του χρόνου. Σε γεμίζει με εικόνες, στιγμές, αναμνήσεις και δεν αντιλαμβάνεσαι ότι όλα αυτά τα διάβασες σε διάρκεια λίγων ωρών.

Αν βρείτε το βιβλίο σε κάποιο ράφι, διαβάστε τουλάχιστον τις πρώτες Σπουδαίες σελίδες του. Είμαι σίγουρος ότι θα σας πείσει να διαβάσετε και τις υπόλοιπες.
Profile Image for Belle.
232 reviews
August 27, 2016
This is the most boring book that I have ever forced myself to get through. I had read an extract from the book and thought it was worth reading because the small extract that I read was very good at setting a scene. I think the poetry like prose and the heavyweight descriptions would be wonderful but only in much smaller doses. It was just too much when every single line of the book was overworked. I didn't enjoy or appreciate this author's writing style at all.

Nothing happens for over 270 pages except lines and lines of repetition and desperate over worked similes. There weren't any speech marks and the grammar was so lacking that at times I just couldn't make sense of who was saying what. The word 'says' was repeated so much I was almost in pain reading it especially with all the broken sentences added in too. There were way too many characters and I couldn't keep track of them all and towards the end I no longer cared. Most of the characters didn't have names which would have been fine if there had been slightly fewer of them. The story was extremeiy slow, predictable and we don't find out what the terrible event was until almost the final page. After such a long wait the ending was too weak to justify such a journey to get there. It was even more disappointing because this mysterious all consuming terrible event had been given so much focus in the blurb attracting readers to the book but then didn't materialize.

This book is like inviting people over for dinner promising an exciting four course meal and then dishing up a slice of cheese on toast served just as everyone is about to go home after having sat there salivating, getting bored and hungry all day while the host described to them in analyzing detail what all of his neighbours looked like yesterday while they waited at the table for a non existent meal to arrive.

At page 170 of a 273 page book I started getting very frustrated that still the big reveal wasn't coming and still it was yet more of the same boring meandering. There wasn't even any build up. By page 190 I knew that I just couldn't do it anymore but by this time I was too near the end not to force myself to finish, so I could tick the book off my book challenge count. I skimmed over the last 80 pages just seeking out the big reveal. There wasn't a big reveal. I already knew. I have never before resorted to skim or speed reading no matter how much I have not enjoyed a book. This is only the third book (one of the other two was also by the same author) that I have not been able to finish in almost forty years of reading.

Profile Image for Richard Newton.
Author 27 books569 followers
August 27, 2021
This is at times a beautifully observed and very well written novel. The structure takes a few pages to get into, and switches between the first person voice of a girl/young woman who lives in a street, and in alternating chapters the third person observations of various other characters who live in the street. The voice of the woman was better for me, but all are full of good small observations on life that bring realism to a book.

Where the book did not work so well was in terms of the overall structure or plot, and in this it shows an issue I often find with modern English literature. Of course, I don't know how this book was written, but it feels like this to me: take a very talented writer, and then write to a predefined plan / plot and structure with a known outcome; don't allow any variation from that plot or structure; make sure the outcome is strongly hinted at all the way through so there is a sense of mystery being unraveled; don't unravel the mystery until the very end. This can work, but it all needs to be more subtle.

(There is also a thing about twins which felt rather contrived to me).

You always knew this novel was going somewhere, but it felt at times that this journey was over-deliberate, and some of the hints and signposts that you were going somewhere were not very subtle. It felt like a book that started with a plan, and then the colour and writing was added around that plan. There is, I suppose, absolutely nothing wrong with this approach and it seems plenty of people like it. But for me, it reduces the impact of the writing and the novel looses a large part of the sense spontaneity that I enjoy in creative writing. However, this is possibly just me.

This was, for me, a shame as McGregor is obviously a very talented writer. His prose is at times excellent. I just wish he could have let go of the plan and just written more freely.
Profile Image for Amorfna.
204 reviews71 followers
October 13, 2019
Iznenađujuće razočaravajuća knjiga.

Toliko razočaravajuća da sam se na kraju zabavljala brojem poređenja po strani. Zapravo gušenje konstantnom potrebom da se sve uporedi sa nečim me prvo užasno iritiralo. Posle je brojanje koliko puta je autor upotrebio reč kao postalo highlight mog čitalačkog iskustva.

Izleteo je s kućnog praga kao sprinter nakon pucnja iz pištolja....
Sećam se devojke kraj mene koja je ispustila limenku piva i nagnula se unazad,kao pod udarom eksplozije. Mogu da zamislim limenku koja pada na zemlju(.....)ostajući poluuspravljena, kao nakrivljena bandera u oluji.
Ćebe koje visi ka zemlji, kao semafor.

McGregore brate, ok je shvatili smo, jasno nam je kao dan...

Iskreno mogu da shvatim zašto je ljudima stilski zanimljiva ali za mene je ovo bilo samo jedno veliko gubljenje vremena.
Jedva sam se naterala i da nažvrljam ovo.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,038 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.