Title: if nobody speaks of remarkable things
Author: jon mcgregor
Publication: Bloomsbury, 2002
Summary: On a street in a town in the North of England, perfectly ordinary people are doing totally normal things - children play cricket, window-frames are painted, a couple argues, students pack up their belongings and nameless people pass each other like every other day, interweaving yet never connecting. But a terrible event shatters the quiet of the summer evening and no-one who witnesses it will ever be the same again. (Bloomsbury)
What I Think
This book was hard work, but I'm pleased I persevered. The writing style was quite unusual and in the beginning it was hard to determine who the characters were. No one is given a name, they are merely identified by which number house they live at (all the characters live in the same street). One character is written in the first person and this turns out to be the main character.
Also the dialogue is a little difficult to follow, until you get into the rhythm of it. Here is a short extract:
When I open the door I say oh hello, and I look at him and we're both embarrassed.
He's holding a bunch of flowers, thick-stemmed white lilies with bright yellow centres and shiny green leaves.
I look at them, he looks at them, and water drops from the bottom of the wrapping onto his shoe.
Oh, I don't know what to say I tell him, and I don't.
(If nobody speaks of remarkable things, Jon McGregor, pg. 201)
[I]f nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable? (pg. 239). This book is a collection of seemingly unremarkable things, which turn out to have a stronger significance than initially thought. Also, one big thing happens which shapes the lives of those living on this street.
A great book. I would recommend it.
About the Author
Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, So Many Ways to Begin and Even the Dogs. He is the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. He was runner-up for the BBC National Short Story Award in both 2010 and 2011, with 'If It Keeps on Raining' and 'Wires' respectively. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham.