If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
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.
I have heard people rave about this book like it was their own work of art. I really can't see what the fuss is all about with this one. There are some little nuances that I really enjoyed, but overall I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would (or, indeed, how much I'd been told I would).
It began, basically, with "Something has happened. I'm not telling you what is was, yet, but it was a TRAGEDY" and I had to keep reading until almost the final page to find out what it was. And what it was, was nothing much.
In certain areas of the novel, few of McGregor's characters were defined by names, rather by other characteristics such as the street number they lived at, or a physical trait. Although I think this is a very interesting idea, it became tiresome here, and I found it difficult at times to follow along with who was who.
The book also flicks between two different time periods with three years between them, one describing a morning on a lower class street, the other detailing the life of one of the girls who lived on the street. This girl was completely lost to me in the earlier timeframe. I could never quite work out which one she was supposed to be, or which house she lived in. I thought I had cracked it, once, then realised I was probably wrong.
There was also an unexplained obsession with tea. Tea, tea, tea, someone was always making, drinking, or thinking about tea. WHY?!
I can't help but feel that nothing really happened in 275 pages. McGregor describes every person on the street in excessive detail, frequently jumping from neighbour to neighbour. It all seemed a bit too much.
In short, I'm sure there are some brainboxes out there who will say I've missed something wonderful, but I'm not particularly interested. It was a bit too poetic for me, and there was far too much smoke and mirrors for me to entirely enjoy myself.
21 / 66 books. 32% done!