This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You Paperback – 14 Feb 2013
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McGregor is the nearest thing you will ever come across to a literary Beethoven. Words go beyond being 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 ... 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)
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)
Haunting and brilliant (Independent)
Jon McGregor writes with frightening intelligence and impeccable technique. Every page is a revelation (Teju Cole)
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)
Tender, sad, funny, and riveting, this is an astonishing collection of work by one of Britain's finest contemporary writersSee all Product description
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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.
"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.
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. The notes have markings and lines drawn through the sentences, etc. While in If it Keeps Raining, McGregor seems to be trying to ascertain the possibility of experiencing the same thing in different ways.
McGregor is deft at building up tension and expectation as he does in the story We Wave and Call. I also admired McGregor's ability to work within the constraints of the short story form and reveal things in an efficient and timely manner. For example, instead of using specific narrative moments to tells us things about his characters, things are revealed by actions and through the course of the stories' main narrative drive.
Some of the stories convey weird and surreal-like experiences as in the experience of the café worker in French Tea
For all my admiration of McGregor's experimentation and the freshness of the stories, I was nonetheless left feeling that something was missing. For me McGregor's emphasis on experimentation was done at the expense of delivering stories that had little emotional impact on me.
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