Synopsis: On a street in a town in the North of England, ordinary people are going through the motions of their everyday existence. A young man is in love with a neighbour who does not even know his name. An old couple make their way up to the nearby bus stop. But then a terrible event shatters the quiet of the early summer evening.
Title: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
Author: Jon Mcgregor
Pub Date: 1st May 2003
There is a front garden next door to my house; I walk past it every day to get to the bus stop. It’s overgrown with weeds and has an almost neglected look to it. Then, one day, my parents came to visit. On her way out, my mother exclaimed at how pretty the flowers looked next door. Confused, I walked out to see what she was talking about – there are no flowers next door!
But I was wrong. I stood there, shocked. I walk past the same garden every day and had managed to completely miss a huge bush, brimming full of gorgeous white flowers. How did I miss it? How could I overlook such a remarkable thing?
This is, in essence, is what If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things is about.
“He says, there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are.
“If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?”
A road of houses in a town somewhere in England; a group of people so ordinary you never learn their names. But, in every moment, remarkable things happen. The details that are often missed are described with accuracy and care. The tragedies of daily life, the loneliness, the inexorable foreboding – the things that are never said and rarely seen by others are brought to the light in this beautifully written novel.
McGregor has a definite aversion towards inverted commas, towards punctuation in general. The tone is carefully measured and the text reads more like a poem than prose that draws you in from the very beginning.
“If you listen, you can hear it.
The city, it sings.
If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of the street, on the roof of a house.
It’s clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.
It’s a wordless song, for the most, but it’s a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings. And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.”
If you love fast-paced, action-packed, thrilling, unputdownable books, this book probably isn’t for you. If you have an aversion to any digression from the correct usages of grammar and punctuation, this book probably isn’t for you.
But if you like to be surprised by a book; to be entranced by how beautiful the mundane and inconsequential things in life can become. If you want to finish reading with a sigh and look at the world a little differently because of it – then you need to read this.