14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful, original and compelling,
This review is from: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (Paperback)
A great book excellently written. McGregor has an individual and unusual style with short paragraphs, making his prose almost poetic. I often dislike books of this kind, but something about this style just really appealed to me - I suppose it does come down to individual taste, but I'm surprised that other reviewers haven't rated it more highly.
The story alternates between a beautifully observed description of the lives of a number of people living on a street in an anonymous UK town on an ordinary summer day - ordinary, that is, until a tragedy occurs - and a first person narrative set several years later by one of the characters there that day, who revisits and gains a new insight into what occured.
Although only one momentous event occurs - and even this is momentous in a fairly small and personal way (I'm trying not to give too much away) - the story is never dull and this is down to McGregor's skill in making descripions of ordinary life (preparing breakfast, students packing up their rooms, someone trying to light a barbeque) fascinating by way of his writing. The story moves cleverly between characters, which sustains the pace. There is an impending sense of doom, as small, ordinary actions build up to the eventual conclusion, that is very compelling.
There are also many small mysteries and dramas related to the characters which kept me glued to the pages. How did the man with scarred hands get injured, who is the mysterious boy at number 18 and why is taking pictures of the street, what is the news the first person narrator afraid of telling her mother?
As the story unfolds, some questions are answered but much is left nicely unresolved. The ending is poignant and unexpected with a good twist, and has a message about the closed off existences most people live, not really noticing those around them. The fact that none of the characters (apart from one) are named adds to this sense of modern anonymity. I believed completely in all of the characters; from the old man afraid to tell his wife he is ill, to the students drifting as they try to decide what to do next, to the mother caring for her family.
It was utterly compelling and original, as well as being beautifully written. I can't really find anything to criticise. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading.