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This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You
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This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  808 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
A man builds a tree house by a river, in anticipation of the coming flood. A sugar-beet crashes through a young woman's windscreen. A boy sets fire to a barn. A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter-planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.

These aren't the sort of things you imagine happening to someone like you. But som
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published February 2012 by Bloomsbury UK
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Geoff Smith I think a lot of readers, myself included, struggle from time to time with the 'literary' view of a short story. I think that the fashion for short…moreI think a lot of readers, myself included, struggle from time to time with the 'literary' view of a short story. I think that the fashion for short stories at present is that they pitch in somewhere between novelistic fiction and poetry.

Consequently they are often more about an idea or them than they are about an or action. I think McGregor is doing this well in most of the stories in this book. And I am enjoying it quite a lot.

I do think that the 'poetic' features of 'literary' short stories do make them a bit his and miss, just as poems in a poetry collection can often feel that way.(less)

Community Reviews

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Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this 5 stars, because a good half or more of the stories are just terrific. I also see McGregor as one of the great up and coming English fiction writers (as opposed to British – there’s no end of brilliant Scottish, Irish and Welsh writers). Him and Ross Raisin. You feel with McGregor he is always pushing at boundaries in order to express himself with more accuracy, with more empathy. So he bends the usual practises of fiction in order to make us feel. It puts some peopl ...more
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories make up a true collection, one of place. Perhaps because much of it is set in the fens, at times I was reminded of Graham Swift's Waterland and that I want to reread that novel one day. Only two of the stories have recurring characters, but it's as if each story needs the other to achieve that unifying impression of place, and that alone was impressive. (The sum being much greater than its parts?)

Some of the stories are brilliant, but none reached the high bar set by his novels. A
Razvan Zamfirescu
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: proza-scurta
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu

Ce face McGregor? Titlul vorbește de la sine, teoretic. Sunt o serie de povestiri care au drept subiect banala existență a unor personaje cărora li se întâmplă lucruri care nu li s-ar întâmpla niciodată. Probabil că nici nu li s-a întâmplat ceea ce se petrece în poveștile în care sunt protagoniști. Poveștile sunt ciudate. Unuia îi este frică să mănânce ouă deoarece la un moment dat s-ar putea să
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
These short stories range from stream-of-consciousness monologue to the cold hard precision of a bureaucratic report to the awkward rambling of a transcript. Each is haunting and indelible, while being utterly impressive – impressive in the sense of being impressed upon the reader, of leaving a mark.

This is one of the very best collections I’ve ever read, and if you’re a fan of short fiction, particularly short fiction that leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination, this is right up your alley. T
Heather Noble
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think the title is ironic. The sort of things that happen in the stories can and do happen to many of us but it is the consideration and contemplation of the events that show us the extraordinary in ordinary lives.
The stories are mostly set in a specific and closely observed landscape in an indistinct time when the characters seem to be on the brink of or living through a catastrophic situation.
Some of the stories are far more engaging and intriguing than others and I think the author is playi
Di S
Mixed feelings on this one. On the whole I enjoyed it. There is some excellent writing, with really good use of narrative perspective and insightful characterisation. But occasionally there is something thrown in which seems a bit too pretentious e.g. a story which is single line, or some minutes from a meeting, or a 'story' which is just a list of towns. So as a collection of short stories it is uneven. The earlier stories seemed better and towards the end it felt as if material had been added ...more
WCN Book Club
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review by Sam Ruddock - Summer Reads Producer

This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You could be the title of any of Jon McGregor's four published books. He's a writer interested in moments that change lives and the legacy of these upon his characters. His debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, took this concept literally, fusing narratives charting the effects of a single incident and using them to create tension as another narrative built to that crescendo moment. Eve
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I tend not to be a fan of short stories, they’re usually not as good as novels. This, of course, is a sweeping generalisation and, like all sweeping generalisations, is wrong. What I like are stories with a bit of depth, which is not the same thing as length though the two are easily conflated.
This collection of short stories all share a general setting and contain repeated themes, in a couple of notable instances repeated characters as well. The book as a whole therefore isn’t so different from
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My friend the crime writer Jim Kelly whose books are set in Ely and King's Lynn, recommended this collection to me because my novel Ninepins was set in the fens and these stories, too, all have the fen landscape as their backdrop - though in this case Lincs rather more than Norfolk or Cambs.

I was totally blown away - so much so that I felt completely disorientated when reading it on the train back from London and nearly missed my stop at Cambridge station and ended up adrift in King's Lynn - wh
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been reading more short stories recently, and am really starting to appreciate that they are an art form.. These are very eclectic, so there is an element of surprise each time. They are all linked by an acute perception of how people think and feel, in all manner of situations. Lyrical language and, often, the perfect word to give exactly the right nuance.. A delight, and one to reread and savour.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This collection is uneven. Some of the stories are brilliant and others seem like an afterthought. The stream-of-consciousness style is entertaining, although I found a few stories a bit pointless. This book would have benefited from more curating, culling, and editing. I'm not sure why it's considered one of the best short story collections of all time.
Roger Brunyate
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
Interactive Storytelling

Jon McGregor doesn't so much tell stories as invite the reader to find them. Take the first two items in this collection, one short, the other fairly long. "That Colour" is a single paragraph of just over a page. A woman standing in the front row of a cottage calls to a man washing dishes in the kitchen to come and look at the autumnal leaves over the road. He finishes the washing; he comes to her; he takes her hand. That is all. But the writing makes you ask questions—ab
This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You is a collection of short stories: 30 stories, of varying lengths (one is just one sentence; one is thirty pages) and varying styles (1st-person, 2nd-person, and 3rd person narration are all used; one story is in the form of a numbered list of "Supplementary Notes To The Testimony Of Appellants B & E"; another is a list of place names). I don't read that many short story collections, and I don't know why not: when they're good, as ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Very mixed bag. Some utterly stunning short stories - they will stay with me. Some real misses.

Almost felt as though it was the work of a class of students - some at genius level, some who rushed a quick assignment just before class.
Vicki Jarrett
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I’m a huge fan of Jon McGregor’s novel’s – If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is one of my favourite books, ever. So, as a keen reader of short stories, I was tremendously excited to get my hands on This Isn’t The Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You – so much so I even bought it in hardback, which I haven’t done with another book in as long as I remember. These stories are more experimental, more subtle than the novels (not that they were unsubtle or conventional, quite the opposit ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
When I first began reading this volume, I thought perhaps that the stories were connected. They all appear to take place in Lincolnshire (with one exception, which takes place in Japan, in which a main character from the Lincolnshire area is on vacation), and the author is careful to note specific place names. However, the stories themselves seem to have little to do with the named places, and most could have taken place anywhere.

Some of the stories are experimental in nature. An early story int
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The most unique collection of short stories I have read so far. I'm not even sure some of them could be termed as such. His voice is simple yet intriguing at times; the way he describes everything is so beautiful, some so dreamy and yet matter-of-fact. He brings out feeling in the subtlest of ways. However in some of them I wasn't sure what was going on. Is there a theme in this collection which ties everything or at least some of these stories together? I get the feeling there is but I can't ma ...more
David Meldrum
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I passionately love McGrgeor's writing - he's a prose poet of the highest talent; he writes with beauty, wit, compassion and deep insight. All of these qualities are apparent in this volume of short stories and poems; some of them easy and accessible, others downright odd but no less brilliant for that. If there's a unifying theme here, for me it's about the lenses we view events and life through and how those shift over time. Whatever the unifying theme, McGregor remains for me one of the fines ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-sarah
I have loved all of Jon McGregor's other novels - but this one was not for me sadly. Never been a huge fan of short stories and just didn't really get these. I thought they may be linked but could draw no relationships other than the locations. Many of them finished without an ending - I know you are meant to interpret your own ending but it just made me frustrated. A couple were OK and kept me reading more avidly but there were many I just didn't understand :-(
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
can't give this a five in good conscious because there are a few short stories that i didn't like that much in here, but i still ABSOLUTELY recommend you pick it up, some of the short stories here are the best things i've read all year.

personal favorite stories: wires, we wave and call, and we were just driving around
Simon Hemmings
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read it. That is my recommendation.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book of short stories to read on a train travelling through the east of England on a grey day.

Ira Nadhirah
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Buku ini telah mengajar aku yang, ending sesebuah cerita memang tidak penting langsung. Fuck endings. Let's just live!
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the UK's best short story writers, in my opinion. Lots of quality in this collection.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it liked it
A hit-or-miss collection from a writer that definitely has a lot of talent and potentially greatness to come.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon McGregor's stories are rooted in the (largely ignored by contemporary literature) county of Lincolnshire. Many of the stories in this collection are strange, incidental snatches of everyday life, often with a dark edge of impending crisis or societal breakdown. They are very much the sort of thing that could you believe could happen to someone like you. McGregor loves to experiment with form and with new ways of telling, and the sheer variety of the stories in the collection is exhilarating. ...more
Pamela Scott
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jon-mcgregor, library

It’s been a long time, far too long since I read a collection of short stories. It was a pleasure to read this one. Like his novels, these stories have the author’s trademark sparseness yet are filled with well-drawn characters and vivid, rich detail that made them a pleasure to read. In Winter the Sky is my favourite story in the collection. It is, quite frankly, jaw-dropping and stunning. Other stories I particularly enjoyed were We Were Just Driving Aro
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
When I went to buy Jon McGregor's Reservoir 13 I realised that there were a couple of gaps in my reading. So I borrowed This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, a collection of short stories. They are set in the Fens and are range from the slightly strange to the downright disturbing. Jon McGregor also uses a few of them to play around with words and structures which is challenging. Enjoyable is not quite the word to describe them, but I'm glad to have read them - or at lea ...more
Kate Taylor
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only recently discovered Jon McGregor and am in the process of devouring everything he's written. I hadn't realised this was a collection of short stories when I picked this up and whilst not the biggest fan of short stories, I loved this. A few of them didn't really work for me but in the main, I thought the rest of them were excellent. Cannot wait to read more from him.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: work
The title is very fitting, the stories are all rather strange, which I suppose they are meant to be, but they're not my kind of stories, they are too weird for me.
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Abbeys Bookshop: Jon McGregor 1 11 May 01, 2012 07:15PM  
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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. Even the Dogs was published in 2010, and his newest work, Reservoir 1 ...more
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