If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

by Jon McGregor | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0747561575 Global Overview for this book
Registered by scotsbookie of Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on 3/17/2006
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16 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Friday, March 17, 2006
I was in a bookray for this book & it got lost, I bought this as a replacement for the ray but someone else had too. I'm delighted to have my own copy!

from Amazon.co.uk
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.

From the Author
I was born in Bermuda in 1976, grew up in Norfolk, went to university in Bradford, lived in Sheffield for a year after university and now live in Nottingham with my wife Alice. I began writing at university and had a collection of short stories - "Cinema One" Hundred - published within an anthology called "Five Easy Pieces" by Pulp Faction in April 1998. I also had a short story, "While You Were Sleeping" broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 1999. I then got a literary agent who said that I should write a novel and "If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things" was written largely over the last two years on a narrowboat in Nottingham. This year Granta Magazine has published another of my short stories in their June issue and You Magazine (Mail on Sunday) have commissioned another short story which I'm working on now as well as writing my second novel.

In the summer of 1997, a boy was shot in Bolton, round about the same time that Diana died. This got me thinking about the significance that gets attached to people's lives and deaths, about perceived levels of tragedy and newsworthiness. I was interested in the anonymity of city life, the fact that I still didn't know my neighbours after three years, the damage that transience does to the community. And a few almost-terrible incidents in the street I was living in at the time gave me the magic What If that fiction always requires.

However, it took me a long time to develop that into anything useful or compelling - there were a lot of false starts and cul-de-sacs. In particular I was using the hook, for a long time, of setting it on the day of Diana's death and making the stories revolve around that. It took me a long time to drop that idea, but it needed dropping; it was too melodramatic and artificial, and it detracted from the characters and stories of the people on the street. I've left in a faint reference to that whole concept though; the story is still set on that day, but without any mention of it beyond a reference to the date - a counterclaim for the importance of other people's lives.

The character of the narrator - and therefore the hook and drive of the novel as a coherent whole - didn't come until May 2000, when I went to Japan to visit a friend and he showed me the Buddhist temple at Kamakura, where they have a shrine for mothers of stillborn/aborted children. This sparked off a chain of thought about what a responsibility and a fear pregnancy must be, which gradually rolled into a storyline able to tie together what was happening in the street. So in a sense I only really started writing the novel then, but I was pulling in a lot of material written previously to that and as a result finished an initial version in March 2001.

So that's the mechanics of it. A list of things I was thinking about whilst writing it would include; ideas of connection and misconnection, the prominence of celebrity, the importance of unwitnessed lives, an assertion that the job of a writer is to bear witness to that which would otherwise go unnoticed, the namelessness/anonymity of contemporary city life, the nature and/or existence of miracle, the avoidance of overt interpersonal communication, and tea.

Journal Entry 2 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I originally signed up for dododumpling's ray of this book, but unfortunately it got lost in the post. I bought this copy to replace the lost one but so did Molyneux, so I got to keep this copy.

What a wonderful book. It's difficult to say why it touched me so much - the flow of the prose, reading like poetry at times. The seamless flow back & forth from one day in the past to the future of one of the characters.

McGregor captures the minutae of every day life giving us piognant & sometimes heartbreaking insights into the characters lives e.g the young man at NO. 18, the old gentleman at NO. 20, the man with the burned hands, the family of the twins & the narrators family.

This is without a doubt one of the best books I have read this year.

Journal Entry 3 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Offering this as a INTL bookring, PM me to join

sunflowergirl (UK, UK)
Chelseagirl (UK, anywhere)
nyassa (UK/France, Europe)
Iojima (France, anywhere)
wyldetwo (UK, anywhere)
RubyBlueLady (UK, anywhere)
laura0141 (UK, anywhere surface)- skipped
teachie (UK, UK)
Gooner (UK, Europe)
flanners (UK, anywhere)
StoryChaser (UK, anywhere)
Amanida (UK, anywhere)
marie-therese (UK, anywhere)

& now the book is back home with me

Journal Entry 4 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, March 25, 2006
Posted to LindyB28 yesterday, the start of a nice long journey! Happy Reading!

Journal Entry 5 by LindyB28 from Acocks Green, West Midlands United Kingdom on Monday, March 27, 2006
Thanks Scotsbookie (for the yummy choc too - my favourite); I'm looking forward to reading this :-)

Journal Entry 6 by LindyB28 from Acocks Green, West Midlands United Kingdom on Sunday, April 16, 2006
A "quiet" book with a carefully constructed dual narrative. It is poignant and will stay with me.

Will PM Sunflowergirl for her address.

Journal Entry 7 by sunflowergirl from Carlisle, Cumbria United Kingdom on Thursday, April 27, 2006
This book has just arrived here, thank you.

I've been really good in recent months and only signed up to books that were on my wishlist. So how come 7 books have arrived through my letter box in the last three days?! I'm now drowning in rings and rays! I promise I'll get to this book as soon as I can and I'll journal it again once I've read it.

Journal Entry 8 by sunflowergirl from Carlisle, Cumbria United Kingdom on Sunday, May 7, 2006
I finished this book in the early hours of this morning, once I got into it I just could not put it down! This is one of the best books I have read in a long time, I loved the way it was written. It was so moving reading about peoples lives without even knowing their names, it was so real. The prose was just beautiful and the whole story incredibly touching.

I am very tempted now to go out and buy my own copy of this book so that I can read it again. I know for sure that it's a book I will want to read more than once.

Thanks for letting me join this ring.

*** I've PM'd chelseagirl and am just waiting for her to email her address to me. I'll post the book on as soon as I can. ***

Journal Entry 9 by sunflowergirl from Carlisle, Cumbria United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 9, 2006
I'll be posting this book on to the next reader tomorrow afternoon.

Journal Entry 10 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Saturday, May 13, 2006
Received safely, many thanks. Really looking forward to this but unfortunately I've got a small mountain of ring books here, so it will be a few weeks.

Journal Entry 11 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I'm really sorry but I can't get into this at all. I'm up to page 60 and so far nothing has happened and the half-stream of consciousness, half-poetic style is really bugging me and I find it really difficult to read. I've even tried skipping ahead to trying and find a section that will hold my attention but that hasn't worked either. I've tried to hard to like this - I've read a bit, hated it, read another book and then come back to this three or four times, but I don't think I'm ever going to get on with it so I'm going to pass it on. Really sorry about that - I guess you can't please all the people all the time...!

I'll PM nyassa and get this moving on asap.

Journal Entry 12 by nyassa from Deal, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Arrived safely today, along with two others! How does that happen?

Journal Entry 13 by nyassa from Deal, Kent United Kingdom on Friday, August 25, 2006
Absolutely wonderful!

I was quite concerned that this would be too "difficult" to read, but nothing could be further from the truth. I finished it last night and still haven't been able to contemplate picking anything else up (I am normally a chain reader!). Anything else I have around just won't touch it.

I have gone straight out to buy a copy for a friend's birthday, and also a copy of his next - So Many Ways to Begin.

Journal Entry 14 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Monday, September 11, 2006
Arrived this morning, thank you. No. 2 TBR.

Journal Entry 15 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A jewel of a book! Not the self-conscious prose/poetry that takes precedence over story, but beautiful rhythms that keep time with the rhythms of the city and infuse the minutiae of every day life with drama. I can't believe it didn't win the Booker. I'm already looking for his next book.
Off to Wyldetwo.

Journal Entry 16 by Iojima from Nyons, Rhône-Alpes France on Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I do wish bookcrossing allowed for editing by Anonymous for when I don't realise I'm not logged in! The previous entry is mine.

Journal Entry 17 by wyldetwo from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Thursday, October 5, 2006
This arrived in the post yesterday from France, thanks Margot! The nougat was lovely by the way :-)

Journal Entry 18 by wyldetwo from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Once I'd got used to the chronology of it, I loved this book! I did get a bit confused about the different characters at times since they are all nameless, only identified by descriptions and their house numbers.
I think I'd like to read it again to enjoy the lyrical quality more, as I found myself rushing it towards the end to find out what happens!

Will PM rubybluelady now though, as it's still got quite a bit of travelling to do!

Thanks for sharing, scotsbookie :-)

Journal Entry 19 by RubyBlueLady from Avebury, Wiltshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I received this book yesterday and read it yesterday. I wasn't sure if I completely liked the beginning, with all that lyricalising of the noises of the city, it felt slightly pretentious. Fortunately the story quickly reeled me in. I rather liked the lack of dialogue indicators, the way it all ran together seemed soothing, like sitting by a fast-flowing river.

I thought it a unique book, the story intriguing and the climax satisfying. Thanks for sharing.

Will pm Teachie

Journal Entry 20 by wingteachiewing from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Monday, November 6, 2006
Thanks Rubybluelady, this arrived safely today. It is next on my tbr pile as I have no (gasp of astonishment)bookrings here at the moment.

Journal Entry 21 by wingteachiewing from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Monday, November 13, 2006
Thanks so much scotsbookie for sharing this book. It is a wonderful read. The detailed descriptions of the trivia of everyday life read like poetry. I wasn't sure when I started the book that I liked the style, it seemed a little pretentious, but then I just got drawn in by it and couldn't put the book down.
I will contact Ladymondegreen for her address and get this off to her.
L.M has asked to be skipped so I will contact Gooner.

Journal Entry 22 by Gooner from March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Thursday, November 16, 2006
This book arrived safely today. Thanks to teachie for forwarding it, and scotsbookie for sharing.

Updated 3 February 2007: Sorry for the delay in getting on with this one, which I'd looked forward to reading for so long. Everything I wanted to say about this book has already been said in earlier journal entries, and put much better than I could ever have done!

Thanks again for sharing, Scotsbookie. I'm contacting flanners now and will try to get the book in the post as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 23 by flanners from Havant, Hampshire United Kingdom on Friday, February 9, 2007
Arrived today, many thanks.

Journal Entry 24 by flanners from Havant, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, February 12, 2007
So glad I read this - it could easily have slipped past me. And thank you, Audrey, for including the author's bio in your JE; very interesting to read the genesis of this project.

Currently in the post to storychaser.

Journal Entry 25 by StoryChaser from Waterlooville, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Arrived safe and sound, thanks. Will start it as soon as I have finished my current book.

Journal Entry 26 by StoryChaser from Waterlooville, Hampshire United Kingdom on Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wow, what a great book. I absolutely loved it. Such a beautiful writing style, and so alive. Brilliant characterisation, I really felt I knew these people well. The pace was perfect, it just kept drawing me on. Superb, what can I say; a perfect 10.
Thanks scotsbookie for starting tbis ring, and like one of the other readers I feel like going out and buying my own copy, because I am certain to want to read it again.
Just waiting for Amanida's address and then it will be on its merry way.

In the post to Amanida today.

Journal Entry 27 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Monday, February 26, 2007
Arrived today, thanks StoryChaser. I'm a bit bogged down with my current book, so I'll take a break and read this instead.

Journal Entry 28 by Amanida from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, March 4, 2007
Yes, all in all, a great book. About a third of the way through, I did start wondering where it was going and what it was all about and was even tempted to give up on it. But encouraged by all the previous JE's, I carried on and ultimately found it a very rewarding read. The ending is brilliant.
I have marie-therese's address and will try to get it in the post during the week.

Journal Entry 29 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, March 11, 2007
This must have came in yesterday's post as it was waiting for me when I got home this afternoon. I'm really looking forward to reading it as I know many people have really enjoyed it. I don't know much about the plot but the blurb already has me intrigued. Thanks to Amanida for posting it to me and to scotsbookie for sharing it :o)

Journal Entry 30 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, March 19, 2007
I have such mixed feelings about this book; part of me loved the gentle, poignancy of it while another part of me found myself getting a bit annoyed with the he said, she saidness of it as well as getting confused with the characters, the boy with the white shirt, the boy with the pierced eyebrow, the girl with the glitter round her eyes, the girl with the glasses and so on.... I am glad I read it though and I do think it'll stay with me for a while. I will PM akg and get it off to her asap.

Put in the post to akg this morning 31/3/07.

Journal Entry 31 by akg from Didcot, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Monday, April 2, 2007
Arrived today, thank you. I will try and get round to this fairly soon because I know there are several other bookrings arriving soon, however I notice I'm the last person, so I may let it slide a little to get the others moving - nudge me if I'm taking too long.

Journal Entry 32 by akg from Didcot, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 15, 2007
I'm not sure what my opinion is about this book. I found it an easy and quick read, finishing it in a few days over the Easter bank holiday weekend, however I was never gripped by it and don't feel I would have missed much if I had stopped before the end.

I'm not usually one for lots of description because I often feel it gets in the way of the story, but I actually enjoyed it in this book. I found I could really visually some of the characters, particularly the twins' sister. However maybe this was because there wasn't much of a story through the book to follow.

The one thing that really irritated me at times, was the short paragraphs. Some pages seemed to be made up of two or three line indented paragraphs with no space between them, I don't know why, but for some reason I found this difficult to read.

Journal Entry 33 by akg from Didcot, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Thursday, April 26, 2007
Hmm not having much luck returning this to scotsbookie. I tried to get to the post office every day last week but it didn't happem except on Friday when it was already shut. I finally made it to an open post office on Monday and I found the parcel waiting on my doorstep this evening! Not sure how they could have misunderstood where to send it because my address was crossed, but oh well I'll try again tomorrow.

Journal Entry 34 by scotsbookie from Peebles, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, April 30, 2007
This book has arrived afely back with me, thank you akg & all who took part in the ring. The book is in remarkably good condition, I can hadly believe it has been through so many hands.

Although this book is now on my PC shelf it is available for loan.

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