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3.7 out of 5 stars177
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 February 2015
A great author
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on 14 August 2003
"If nobody speaks of remarkable things, are they still remarkable?"
If everybody speaks of an unremarkable book, does that make it remarkable?
Its a book full of lyrical observations of the trivia of life. Its beautifully written, almost poetic. The everyday stories of life in the unnamed street almost weave together to create a running story, but maybe each mini characterisation would have made a better short story in their own right.
But for all the little intricacies of the mini dramas being played out with no beginning and no end, there just wasn't enough to make me care about any of the characters and in the end I didn't care about the book.
I hope McGregor doesn't live in my street, I dread to think what sort of life he would dream up for me.
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on 6 December 2013
I started, I stopped, I chastised myself for ignoring it. I'm sure it's a great book, i really am. In fact, when I was reading the reviews before purchasing I couldn't believe the less favorable reviews. "It's won awards! Everyone keeps saying how great it is!" I told myself. "Those reviewers just don't understand it, probably, a bit over their heads maybe?" But this was not for me at all. I'm kind of silently judging the people who told me how great it is.

Don't get me wrong, it's readable and very nicely written. And I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't read it, but if you're like me it will seem predictable and actually quite boring.
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on 18 November 2003
I came across this by recommendation and what a fine recommendation it was.
McGregor writes in quite an idiosyncratic style but it really allows you to visualise the street and once you connect up all the different scenarios the picture comes alive.
It's refreshing to read a novel which isn't overtly introspective and although the novel pivots around a key incident, it's presented in a way that almost makes it unremarkable. Which, in a way, is kind of the point.
The first couple of chapters take a bit of getting into as you settle down to the style but from then on in I found it totally engrossing.
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on 6 April 2009
Proust and the "epispode of the madeleine" is who/what I thought of when I read this. I also thought that one published author on the planet, living or dead, was probably a sufficient number to explore the genre of minutely observed memory. Like some of the one-star reviewers here, I started speed-reading halfway through because the characters lost my sympathy. They were long-winded but ultimately coy about giving up clues to themselves and their feelings. I lost my curiosity for the central event. As a novel, for me, it fails. The writing was good, however, really good in places, and the imagery caught the imagination (for which one star). The trouble is that what you're imagining is too close to the dreariness of real life and there is a question of "why bother?" My guess is that the author was seeking to be honest (for which the award of two stars). There is nothing phoney about this book, but at the end of the day it just doesn't say very much that I was interested in.

One final point - changing the punctuation (indented paragraphs vs non-indented paragraphs) is used as a means to signal different viewpoints. Demonstrating such respect for language and then dissing punctuation was somehow inconsistent and irritating (One star deducted).

But I do plan to try one of his other works.
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on 8 October 2014
Excellent
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on 8 January 2006
I would have liked to give this book 2.5stars, as I am divided in my opinion of it. The half of me which liked it enjoyed the original style, the engrossing characters which appeared from time to time and the way in which these characters are depicted. Sadly, the more negative aspects frustrated me so much that they overpowered the positive points. Some of the more interesting characters, such as the man who had been in the war and the old man who had a terminal illness where discarded from the plot just as they were becoming interesting. In contrast, the characters who were referred back to time and time again were the ones who hadn't appeared interesting the first time, let alone the fifth!
The book's greatest flaw, as far as I'm concerned, was that each time I opened it, I felt like I was doing a chore.
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on 27 January 2012
.....you wouldn't be reading these reviews! Easily - this would be my desert island book selection. Sweet language, exquisite detail, impressionist masterpiece. Enjoy then go speak of remarkable things......
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on 3 July 2008
I really didn't enjoy the book. I found it overly descriptive and not especially interesting. I persevered to the end and was disappointed.
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on 26 April 2009
Reading this book was like listening to an excited child take 7 hours to tell you about their amazing afternoon. They leave out none of the trivial details along the way, but cannot really engage you because the observations are so superficial and irrelevant. To make matters worse, in the end the "amazing" afternoon turns out to be quite dull, in the scheme of things. If the way this story is told had been more engaging, I would not have wanted to shout "cut to chase!" the whole time. Disappointing.
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