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This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You Hardcover – 2 Feb 2012

26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First Edition edition (2 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408809265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408809266
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. Even the Dogs is his third novel.

(Photo credit: Neil Bennet)

Product Description


Jon McGregor's stories are strange and lovely masterpieces: painfully authentic, inquisitive rather than confrontational, he has a tremendous ability to disturb the surface of everyday things. In this collection the vast skies and silts of the Lincolnshire fens are sensually evoked and the austerely beautiful landscape exposes the most intimate details of his characters' lives; their secrets, their crimes and desires. Underneath that which is radically quotidian, he captures our unique and unusual selves (Sarah Hall)

Pure joy just about sums up Jon McGregor's collection of short stories ... McGregor's genius keeps you on the edge of your seat until the penultimate paragraph ... McGregor is the nearest thing you will ever come across to a literary Beethoven. Words go beyond beings tools of his trade and become an orchestrated, inspired and precisely designed tone poem for each creative idea ... One of the most perfect pieces of written English I have ever come across (Sunday Express)

Set in and around the fens, these wickedly brilliant stories are as black as the local soil ... Jon McGregor's direct, unadorned style couldn't be more suited to this comfortless landscape, a place of cooling towers, drainage ditches and endless skies ... Throughout, omissions and ellipses set the mind racing like a treacherous tide, rushing in to fill the gaps. Not a book for bedtime, then. But very, very good indeed (Daily Mail)

Fans of his novels, in which he has finessed his own inimitable style, won't be disappointed. They will find all the linguistic risk, the formal experimentation, the authorial compassion of his earlier works - and more ... To the anxious literary festival audience member - and anyone else feeling downcast about the state of the short story today - I say, read Jon McGregor's new book. Its verve, its inventiveness, its sheer quiet audacity will reassure you that the short story is alive, well and reaching new heights (Maggie O'Farrell Guardian)

Sharp, dark and hugely entertaining, this collection establishes McGregor as one of the most exciting voices in short fiction (Alex Preston Observer)

McGregor's writing is so distinctive that it becomes hard to compare to another. There is a precision and a poetry to his prose. Life, inner and outer, is so meticulously dissected that events appear to happen in slow motion. There is, in these brooding stories, that same sense of impending cataclysm that gave his debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, its intrigue (Independent)

Jon McGregor writes with frightening intelligence and impeccable technique. Every page is a revelation (Teju Cole)

Jon McGregor's short stories exude tension from the merest glimpse of his characters' deceptively everyday existences ... A writer alive to the lithe life of language ... A huge talent (Sunday Times)

A striking collection ... the prose is picked clean, pellucid (Sunday Telegraph)

McGregor's prose is as sparse as the countryside it has alighted on, with barely a simile or metaphor in sight (Literary Review)

There is a lot to chew over and a lot that stays in the mind (Psychologies)

For those of us who like pared-back prose, McGregor is a modern master at the art (Scotsman)

A master at work in this genre ... brilliantly unnerving (Irish Times)

These unnerving splinters depicting ordinary people in crisis, often against the fathomless landscape of the Fens, make for an outstanding collection from a great writer (Metro)

If you open a page at random in any one of Jon McGregor's three novels to date, you will find, lurking in every line, a haunting, poetic voice - one that creates a menacing sense of tension through a series of carefully placed absences and blank spaces ... stories from the edges of everyday life, strewn with the type of events that are often ignored, or at best shooed away, and almost always thought of as the vagaries of other people and never things that might happen to us ... This collection is McGregor's most lyrical work to date, and some of the shorter stories in the collection, such as "Dig a Hole", "Feeling Complexity" and "Thoughtful" , read like bursts of intense prose poetry ... a work of tremendous scope and ambition. It confirms McGregor's standing as an important contemporary voice - and one that has acquired its importance by speaking of life on the periphery (Times Literary Supplement)

Perfectly poised and incisive (Daily Telegraph)

This collection of short stories set in bleak fenland landscape confirms Jon McGregor as one of our most brilliant and imaginative prose stylists ... Although his style differs with the demands of each piece, his writing is unadorned, often informal and experimental (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Tender, sad, funny, and riveting, this is an astonishing collection of work by one of Britain's finest contemporary writers

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By dikwal on 11 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Between the covers of this book of short stories you will encounter everything from the sublime to the totally ridiculous."In Winter in the Sky" is a good example of both.It is a beautifully written and well constructed story of the developing relationship between a male and female.The former carries a very heavy secret from the night of their first date.McGregor devotes every second page to the rather crude drafts of the main lady,an aspiring writer.This is where you begin to realize that the author sometimes prioritizes art and the desire to be different over reader interest.
"Supplementary Notes to the Testimony of Appellants A & B" reads like a tedious report written in a police station. It is very much out of sync with the subtle creativity of most of the collection. "The Remains" ends with the words,"Have Yet to Be Found" repeated over and over for almost two pages. The final story, "Memorial Stone" comprises four pages of placenames! Perhaps I'm missing something very deep. Somebody please enlighten me if I am.
That's the rant off my chest.Any lover of creative,mood-setting,different(!) writing will revel in this book. the author has a wonderful ability the create a sense of place as well as a sense of a person.You will be smitten with all the emotions. "We Wave and Call" will stay with you for a long time for its ingenious build up to a devastating ending.
The book should have ended with "I'll Buy You a Shovel". Two travelling labourers in a caravan,with an upmarket wedding reception going on nearby will give you moments of great pathos and of great hilarity.
The sublime certainly outweighs the ridiculous.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have really mixed feelings about this book. McGregor writes well, and indeed this short story collection showcases his wide range of writing skills which are used to convey the characters and situations very cleverly. But therein lies my main problem with the book too - too often it seems that the stories are being used to show off that talent and range of styles rather to to create an enjoyable experience for the reader. It is more art than entertainment at times.

Most of the stories are short, indeed, one is less than half a page and one is only one line. Whilst they are all well crafted - even the one liner - they are often too short for the reader to become engaged with the characters, and this is reinforced by the amost unremittingly bleak situations which make up the stories. The characters seem resigned to their fate, and there is little hope of better times to be found in this collection.

Well written, but for me at least, not very enjoyable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni on 16 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having enjoyed Jon McGregor's novels in the past I had high expectations for his new short story collection. I was not disappointed. These are fantastically created tales of life with a strong connecting theme of place. I had previously read one of the stories from the collection, 'Wires' when it came runner up in the BBC National Short Story Competition last year but as a full collection the stories somehow become even more powerful. Thoroughly recommended !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Herman Norford on 24 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his three novels, we have come to know Jon McGregor for his experimental approach to the novel. Here in this collection of short stories, This Isn't The Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, that approach of experimenting is continued. McGregor is also know for his novels that deal with ordinary working class folk and here again in this collection of short stories McGregor's subject matter highlights the lives of ordinary folk.

The stories are varied in terms of length and subject matter. They range from a single sentence that constitutes a story to full length short stories. If there is an underlying unifying issue that connects the stories together it could be said to be place. The book is structured on the basis of areas in Lincolnshire. McGregor then gives us the names of towns and villages that form part of the geographical area. This leaves the reader with the impression that one of things McGregor is doing in the collection is to explore the impact of living in a particular place.

McGregor seems to take people from the places where his stories are set and then briefly explore an issue. So in the story Keeping Watch Over the Sheep, a man who is in dispute with his partner no longer has contact with his daughter and he does his best to see her in her first nativity school play. But of course that is not the sort of thing that happens to someone like me or you.

Whether or not the reader is comfortable with McGregor's experiments, this is what gives these stories their edge. In The Winter Sky, one gets the impression that McGregor is playing around with the composition of a short story. The pages that carry the narrative are juxtaposed with pages of what looks like notes for expanding the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cardiff Reader on 10 May 2015
Format: Paperback
Four stars for some stories, particularly the two that the blurb at the back states were both second in the BBC Short Story Award competition two years running. One star for others, like the one line story. I don't think one line is a story (although I read a fifty word one once that was excellent, although perhaps not really a story). I suppose it depends on what you think makes a story. The author can clearly write; his longer stories are testament to that, but I did find the style a bit pretentious and the very short stories are self-conscious, I thought. Maybe trying to do something that was a bit different, but it didn't work for me.
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