If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor


The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensation, and the difficulty of experiencing community in an increasingly transient society."

What did you think of the writing style with the fragments and pieces of people's lives? I like the idea of just getting a look into each character because that's really the way you know most of the people you interact with in real life. You don't usually get a multi-dimensional view of most people. I did think the way he writes, which is beautiful, served as a distraction to the story, though. I think I would enjoy short stories from him better than a novel. There was just too much detail here for me.

As always, would you recommend this book to someone else? Why or why not? Probably not. I can't think of someone I know who would appreciate the book. [Someone else in the club noted that her mother would probably enjoy the book because she likes mysteries, and there's the overhanging sense throughout the book of wondering what the culminating event is.]

My overall personal rating of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is a B-.

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