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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

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 ratings  ·  117 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 st…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)

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Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
According to Goodreads stats, I will be the 1,000th person to read/rate this book. I wonder what I get for such an achievement. 🙃

This was a collection of short stories originally published in 2012 in hardcover format (Bloomsbury) and then published about 3 years ago in paperback format (4th Estate). It consists of 29 short stories of varying length. One short story consists of just one sentence…the longest story is 30 pages, and the average length is 3-10 pages. Stories are grouped into four sec
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
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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 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
Jasper Le Comte
Pretty good. Some of the stories I didn't quite get, but I definitely liked 'Wires' and 'We Wave and Call'. Some interesting experimental stuff too, such as an entire story written in the form of footnotes to court proceedings, or a story only one sentence long. ...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
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
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
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-read
Hm... Accomidated? Intimiccomplished? Either of those words would do, like? Anyway that is what I feel after reading this collection of short stories? Genius! Hasn’t put me off reading his novel though, my feeling after reading these short stories I mean? Cos that’s what I’m going to do right after posting this, for want of a better word, review.? I’m going to read If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, is what I am getting at, and see how I feel about it.
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. ...more
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
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 this ...more
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
Albert Vandersteeg
Brilliant short stories of all sorts and lengths. What they all have in common is the style of the writer, who has his own set of rules for punctuation. It works perfectly. Some of the stories are mere sketches, others are almost crying out to become novels. There is so much details in just a limited amount of words. The main characters are often people born with a "weaving error" or they have to react in and to circumstances that could force every person into making the wrong choices. Some stor ...more
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. ...more
Bastiaan De Groote
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Each story stand really well on its own, and McGregor is an expert in using experimental forms to tell a story. And, the best thing of all, the way he uses experimental forms (every sentence starts with the same two words, the story consists of footnotes to an unknown text, story written in the 2nd person, the story is three lines long, etc,...) makes it not irritating to read, which can be the case with experimental prose.
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
Liz Mc2
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I admired these stories but didn’t love them the way I did McGregor’s novel Reservoir 13. Except for the first one, I missed some kind of humanity, compassion, or warmth. Maybe it’s that Reservoir 13 was in part about community and connection, while many of these stories were about what keeps people apart, or missed communication.
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.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story "We Wave and Call" is heartbreakingly beautiful. ...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
John Vanderslice
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heard about this writer for the first time in the fall and just finished his first story collection. It is amazingly versatile and polyphonic, everything I admire in an author. The very opposite of one note. The number of different voices McGregor is able to carry off is truly astounding. Most of the stories are noticeably short, some extremely so, but a few go long. A couple things really stand out. First, McGregor loves to play with form. Nearly every story in the collection is told in a diffe ...more
Carlotta Eden
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read collections, sometimes I stop midway and forget about it until later, much later, sometimes months later. Then I forget the stories that I've read (I don't have a very good memory) and start reading anew (this is not a bad thing).

The same happened with the stories in this book. Most of the stories in this book are quite experimental structurally – but they are all stories that you'd want to read, no matter where you saw them. The boy who accidentally kills a man and buries him in a f
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Something wicked this way comes...or maybe more - eerie? Wrong? Read on.

The title pretty much explains the gist of the book - it's set in The Fenlands and my English geography not being my strong point that was an education in itself - the stories all focus around ordinary lives that suddenly take a turn, or rather, drift towards something slightly un-ordinary and provoke a sense of dreamy surprise from the characters - with the suggestion that Something Really Big is going to happen to all of t
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: library, jon-mcgregor

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
John Braine
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, short-stories
Considering some of McGregor's novels have a slightly experimental style, it's no surprise to find a few quite experimental pieces in this short story collections. Unfortunately I really disliked some of them. Particularly ones that were something akin to government reports, both in terms of content, and in terms of "how much fun to read", or not.

However there were plenty of good stories to balance that out and even a few exceptional ones. One story about a lonely man who may or may not have be
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
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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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