If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

3.89 (5,739 ratings by Goodreads)
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'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 Mailshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 20mm | 240.4g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • 0747561575
  • 9780747561576
  • 37,761

Review quote

"If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is a dream of a novel" Erica Wagner, The Times "You won't read anything much more poignant than this" William Leith, Daily Telegraph 'Even as it is shadowed by disaster, McGregor's careful prose is sharpened by anticipation and expectation. This is a novel of wonders' Observer 'Overflows with prose as poetry... a beautiful novel ... unexpected, shocking, moving' Big Issueshow more

About Jon McGregor

Jon McGregor is twenty-five and lives in Nottingham.show more

Review Text

A prizewinning first novel from England is an impressionist portrait of neighbors on one city block. Listen, coos the narrator, listen, with a faint echo, at the start, of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood. Thomas was evoking a Welsh village, while McGregor is summoning the nightsounds of an English city. It's summertime. There's a street of row houses. Neighbors are running errands, hanging out, doing chores. Then something terrible happens, and the neighbors share the horror, transfixed; the event is not described until the end. Small kids improvise a cricket game with a milk crate; older hip kids return from all-night clubbing to smoke weed. A lonely archaeology student collects sidewalk odds and ends ("urban archiving"). A man with ruined hands listens respectfully to his daughter's visions of angels. An old couple step out jauntily to celebrate their 55th anniversary. With the neighbors as a backdrop, the spotlight turns to a character we'll call The Girl. She's just learned she is pregnant, the result of a marvelous one-night-stand in Scotland. She met the student only once, too, at a party, when she was high; they arranged a date that she forgot, though the student never forgot her. His twin brother shows up and drives The Girl to her parents. As she reveals the secret of her pregnancy, she learns her mother's own well-kept secret. Secrets are legion on the block. The old man has not told his wife he's terminally ill, and Michael has yet to tell The Girl the secret of his brother's disappearance. Delicate little clues tell us that some of the neighbors are from the subcontinent, but color and ethnicity aren't important here; the "remarkable things" of the title are the small moments of the here-and-now that rival angelic visions. Those are what McGregor is celebrating. The halting conversations are overdone, and that street horror is problematic, but 26-year-old McGregor's sharp eye and broad sympathies show a true novelistic sensibility and a sizable talent. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

5,739 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 34% (1,952)
4 35% (1,985)
3 21% (1,222)
2 7% (397)
1 3% (183)
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