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If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon…
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If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

by Jon McGregor

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"Then it was over, and it was so sudden that I felt as though a camera flash had exploded in my face"
By sally tarbox on 10 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
With a structure all of its own, this novel has two interwoven story lines. The first is a few years ago: an ordinary street on an ordinary day - kids play, students pack up to go home, one young man moons after a girl...None of the characters are named, we get little glimpses of their day, but we know from the start that some unspecified disaster is about to strike.
The second story line is narrated by the girl from that street some time later. Now facing difficulties of her own, she also recalls that dreadful day.
I thought Jon McGregor's writing was beautiful and poetic and entirely original. And what a jolt at the end! (after the disaster.) ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
I had to read this book in incredibly small doses because every time I picked it up my heart would start clenching and clenching and it would feel too big for my chest. There are small truths that McGregor feeds me that makes me see and panic and want to throw the knowledge that I know out back into the unknown and to gather it up greedily and store it in me.

I've read reviews where people don't like the scatteredness of the book, where they don't like the fact that there are too many people, too many stories, too many things to read about. But this is what it is: a fact. There are so many people, stories, things around us and we don't notice. Here, McGregor is laying them in front of us saying look and take notice and we can't not take notice anymore and it makes us uncomfortable and maybe, it is from this discomfort that spawns dislike. It is true that these people - nameless, most of them - is less memorable than, say, the protagonist, and their presence is ephemeral, and I don't know them as much as I'd like to. But, I recognize them, I recognize what they are going through, and somehow, I think it's enough. ( )
  catnips13 | Jul 2, 2016 |
A random borrowed pick. This was a struggle for me and I was glad to finish it. I didn't like the nameless aspect and the 'revelations' at the end didn't live up to much. I got quite impatient with it but maybe I'm just a philistine. ( )
  aine.fin | May 10, 2016 |
Beautiful words. ( )
  kmmsb459 | Jan 24, 2016 |
The book is set in modern London and interweaves throughout the lives of residents in the street, working it's way back to a disaster that's alluded to at the beginning of the book. But it just doesn't work for me on so many fronts.

For a start, there are far too many characters at play, many of whom never really take a proper place in the narrative, and it becomes very confusing as McGregor just refers to them by brief physical description and the number of house they live at. On a number of occasions I lost the trail and couldn't figure out who he was talking about, but it mattered little as they were of no consequence to the story. It was therefore very difficult to care much about any of these characters, on which premise the novel failed abjectly for me.

McGregor also switched between first person and third person, moving between one main narrator in the current period to a third person observation of the past, and it just didn't work. With so many house numbers and characters to remember, the protagonist who becomes the first person narrator in part of the book is unremarkable and referred to little when observed through the third person voice, therefore the connection with the first person account is lost.

The first person narrator is a young woman, but all through the novel I was conscious of a male writer trying to imagine what a woman thinks or how she acts. On this occasion the writer didn't manage to pull it off, and at times I had to keep reminding myself what sex the protagonist was.

Finally, there was the metaphor and simile overload. Dear goodness, it was toe curling at times.

'If nobody speaks of remarkable things' - well, no need to on this occasion. ( )
  AlisonY | Jan 29, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747561575, Paperback)

'This novel owes as much to poetry as it does to prose. Its opening, an invocation of the life of the city, is strongly reminiscent of Auden's Night Mail in its hypnotic portrait of industrialised society...An assured debut' Erica Wagner, The Times. On a street in a town in the North of England, ordinary people are going through the motions of their everyday existence - street cricket, barbecues, painting windows...A young man is in love with a neighbour who does not even know his name. An old couple make their way up to the nearby bus stop. But then a terrible event shatters the quiet of the early summer evening. That this remarkable and horrific event is only poignant to those who saw it, not even meriting a mention on the local news, means that those who witness it will be altered for ever. Jon McGregor's first novel brilliantly evokes the histories and lives of the people in the street to build up an unforgettable human panorama. Breathtakingly original, humane and moving, IF NOBODY SPEAKS OF REMARKABLE THINGS is an astonishing debut. 'The work of a burning new talent ...Jon MacGregor writes like a lyrical angel' Daily Mail

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:01 -0400)

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On a street in a town in the North of England, perfectly ordinary people are doing totally normal things. But a terrible event shatters the quiet of the summer evening and no one who witnesses it will ever be the same again.

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