If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregorRisky in conception, hip and yet soulful, this is a prose poem of a novel -- intense, lyrical, and highly evocative -- with a mystery at its center, which keeps the reader in suspense until the final page. In a tour de force that could be described as Altmanesque, we are invited into the private lives of the residents of a quiet urban street in England over the course of a single day. In delicate, intricately observed closeup, we witness the hopes, fears, and unspoken despairs of a diverse community: the man with painfully scarred hands who tried in vain to save his wife from a burning house and who must now care for his young daughter alone; a group of young clubgoers just home from an all-night rave, sweetly high and mulling over vague dreams; the nervous young man at number 18 who collects weird urban junk and is haunted by the specter of unrequited love. The tranquillity of the street is shattered at days end when a terrible accident occurs. This tragedy and an utterly surprising twist provide the momentum for the book. But it is the authors exquisite rendering of the ordinary, the everyday, that gives this novel its freshness, its sense of beauty, wonder, and hope. Rarely does a writer appear with so much music and poetry -- so much vision -- that he can make the world seem new.
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Thursday 9 July , Judging by its debut, it will find a permanent place in the calendar - very well organised, with enthusiastic audiences and a great crop of writers. I only just avoided an on-air howler with Jon, who, because he lives in the East Midlands I was going to describe as local. The trouble is that he lives in Nottingham which, although only a bike-ride away for him, is the object of so much rivalry in Derby that it might as well be on the moon. So, with relief, we turned to his novel If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, written just after the turn of the century when he was in his twenties, and a dazzling book.
Please note that this product is not available for purchase from Bloomsbury. 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.
Jon McGregor's first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things , focuses on one block in a city street and one horrible event of the recent past, the details of which are concealed until the end of the book. McGregor reveals this place from two points of view first, through a young woman who was a witness to the event in question. The second point of view is that of the neighborhood itself, an all-seeing consciousness that seems to arise from the silences and sounds of the block and looks into the visible and interior worlds of its inhabitants. Through this lens, the reader sees that horrible day, beginning with college kids who drift home at dawn from the clubs and moving forward, through morning tea, children going out to play, a lonely man collecting urban artifacts, a couple in their bedroom, people with regrets, fears and secrets. What weaves these people together and turns a collected heap of discrete activities into a cohesive narrative is the fast-approaching terrible event. We are drawn, with dread, toward the inevitable moment when the curtains will be pulled back and we will witness this occurrence for ourselves.
I lay buried on a dusty velvet sofa, in a small room in a flat in a street in a city. Outside the window there was a tree cut through with telephone wires.
McGregor's poignant, Booker-nominated debut examines in loving detail a day in the lives of the inhabitants of a single British block. It is a day like any other—a woman prepares breakfast for her family, boys play cricket, a man washes his car—until a terrible accident occurs, which is witnessed by all the neighbors but concealed from readers until the novel's end. Drifting from apartment to house to yard, McGregor reveals the stories found in each: there is the couple who fight bitterly and have brilliant sex; the man with hands scarred from trying, unsuccessfully, to save his wife from a fire; the aging veteran keeping from his wife the truth of his imminent demise. Weaving through these tales of the transcendental ordinary is the first-person narrative of a girl coming to terms with her unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand. Her lover's twin brother arrives to drive her to her parents, but doesn't tell her the truth about his brother's absence; the girl's mother has her own secrets. McGregor's rapt attention to the exquisiteness of daily life sometimes makes his details ring falsely portentous, and his unwavering focus on minutiae—rain, traffic lights—can be wearying. But as the man with the scarred hands remarks, "there are many things you could miss if you are not paying careful attention.
It portrays a day in the life of a suburban British street, with the plot alternately following the lives of the street's various inhabitants. All but one person's viewpoint is described in the third person, and the narrative uses a flowing grammatical style which mimics their thought processes. Receiving generally positive critical reviews, the book notably won the prestigious Somerset Maugham Award , issued by the Society of Authors. On his website, Jon McGregor explains that the book began partly as a book about the reaction to the death of Princess Diana , set in 'a street where life was going on regardless'. He goes on to state that the setting is Bradford , where McGregor lived in the late s. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things eschews a traditional narrative structure, instead moving from one resident of an unnamed English street to another, describing their actions and inner world over the course of a single day, the last day of Summer in