If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

About the book

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.

Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A theatre and literature reading group:

A triumph of poetic prose and sensitive observation of a small, ordinary collection of people. Though set in a North of England town, its universality led our readers, mentally to place it in several other areas in the UK. By centring our discussion initially on the idea of a moment of complete stillness and exploring our personal experiences of such events, we were able to inhabit a world of which we are all aware but rarely acknowledge. This is not an easy book to read, but for anyone finding joy in the development of the modern novel, it is a must.

Star rating: ****

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8 thoughts on “If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor”

  1. Review by Boaters Book Club:
    An intriguing good read. The lyrical quality, poetic prose, language usage and sentence construction was discussed extensively. The characterisations were clever, one was never sure if people were who/what they were. The ending was considered wide open and interpreted differently by various members.
    Star rating: ***/****


  2. Review by Ladies of an Age Reading Group:
    Some people found this a really different read due to the style of writing. Others felt you did not get to know the characters and struggled to finish it because of this.
    Star rating: **


  3. Review by Fareham Reading Group:
    Majority of group loved this. Poetical style very refreshing. Slight disappointment for some at ‘tame’ ending, but others thought it beautiful for the fact it was so ‘ordinary’. Highly recommended.
    Star rating: ****


  4. Review by Cowdray Reading Group:
    One person absolutely loved it. The majority enjoyed the way it was written, but would have liked the characters to be more identifiable. Some were disappointed by the ending. On the whole reasonably enjoyable, but wouldn’t read it again.
    Star rating: **+


  5. Review by Anon Reading Group:
    Intriguing book and a clever idea but it didn’t flow comfortably. Interesting and descriptive – perhaps worth re-reading.
    Star rating: **


  6. Review by Eastleigh Library Wed Group:
    Hard to get into. There was a mixed reaction from the group but some members enjoyed it. It was a good description of urban street life where neighbours don’t know each other.
    Star rating: **


  7. Review by Goodworth Clatford WI:
    Lack of plot and direction. No punctuation or sentence construction. Title apt – unremarkable. Muddled, pretentious, irritating.
    Star rating: None


  8. Review bu Unknown Reading Group:
    4 thought it was great, 4 disliked it, 4 thought it was well written but no plot and no character development
    Star rating: ** ½


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