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If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
by Jon McGregor


Overview - Risky 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.  Read more...

 
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More About If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
 
 
 
Overview
Risky 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 day's end when a terrible accident occurs. This tragedy and an utterly surprising twist provide the momentum for the book. But it is the author's 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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780618344581
  • ISBN-10: 0618344586
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • Publish Date: November 2003
  • Page Count: 275
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.69 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.63 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary

 
BookPage Reviews

It's a terrible day in the neighborhood

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.

The writing here is absolutely resplendent, the work of a true seer, who does for urban England what John Cheever did for Westchester County. McGregor intimately understands his subjects and portrays them in all their specificity, their poetry and their shortcomings. He paints his setting with achingly vivid detail and attention, avoiding broad strokes. McGregor has rewritten the rules of structure and dramatic action, letting the drama of the unknown event seep backward into the entire day that preceded it. The reader has the chance to do what no unknowing human can: to realize that everything is about to change and to pay informed attention to the way things are just before a critical event, to walk the line between the ordinary and the revelatory. There is a hint of magic realism here, but in this truly singular work of fiction, one ultimately finds something that is simply magically real.

 
BAM Customer Reviews