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This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You Hardcover – February 1, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Jon McGregor's stories are strange and lovely masterpieces: painfully authentic, inquisitive rather than confrontational, he has a tremendous ability to disturb the surface of everyday things. In this collection the vast skies and silts of the Lincolnshire fens are sensually evoked and the austerely beautiful landscape exposes the most intimate details of his characters' lives; their secrets, their crimes and desires. Underneath that which is radically quotidian, he captures our unique and unusual selves Sarah Hall Pure joy just about sums up Jon McGregor's collection of short stories ... McGregor's genius keeps you on the edge of your seat until the penultimate paragraph ... McGregor is the nearest thing you will ever come across to a literary Beethoven. Words go beyond beings 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 ... Jon McGregor's direct, unadorned style couldn't be more suited to this comfortless landscape, a place of cooling towers, drainage ditches and endless skies ... 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 Fans of his novels, in which he has finessed his own inimitable style, won't be disappointed. They will find all the linguistic risk, the formal experimentation, the authorial compassion of his earlier works - and more ... 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 McGregor's writing is so distinctive that it becomes hard to compare to another. There is a precision and a poetry to his prose. Life, inner and outer, is so meticulously dissected that events appear to happen in slow motion. There is, in these brooding stories, that same sense of impending cataclysm that gave his debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, its intrigue Independent Jon McGregor writes with frightening intelligence and impeccable technique. Every page is a revelation Teju Cole Jon McGregor's short stories exude tension from the merest glimpse of his characters' deceptively everyday existences ... 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 For those of us who like pared-back prose, McGregor is a modern master at the art Scotsman A master at work in this genre ... brilliantly unnerving Irish Times These unnerving splinters depicting ordinary people in crisis, often against the fathomless landscape of the Fens, make for an outstanding collection from a great writer Metro If you open a page at random in any one of Jon McGregor's three novels to date, you will find, lurking in every line, a haunting, poetic voice - one that creates a menacing sense of tension through a series of carefully placed absences and blank spaces ... stories from the edges of everyday life, strewn with the type of events that are often ignored, or at best shooed away, and almost always thought of as the vagaries of other people and never things that might happen to us ... This collection is McGregor's most lyrical work to date, and some of the shorter stories in the collection, such as "Dig a Hole", "Feeling Complexity" and "Thoughtful" , read like bursts of intense prose poetry ... a work of tremendous scope and ambition. It confirms McGregor's standing as an important contemporary voice - and one that has acquired its importance by speaking of life on the periphery Times Literary Supplement Perfectly poised and incisive Daily Telegraph This collection of short stories set in bleak fenland landscape confirms Jon McGregor as one of our most brilliant and imaginative prose stylists ... Although his style differs with the demands of each piece, his writing is unadorned, often informal and experimental Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, So Many Ways to Begin and Even the Dogs. He is the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has been twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was runner-up for the BBC National Short Story Award in both 2010 and 2011, with 'If It Keeps on Raining' and 'Wires' respectively. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. www.jonmcgregor.com @jon_mcgregor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury UK; First Edition edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408809265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408809266
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeffrey D. Kenyon on June 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I first began reading this volume, I mistakenly thought that perhaps the stories were connected by character. Apparently, however, the intent appears to be a connection through setting: all the stories take place in Lincolnshire (with one exception, which takes place in Japan, in which a main character from the Lincolnshire area is on vacation), and the author is careful to note specific place names. My personal opinion is that the author doesn't succeed on this level: I didn't get a strong sense of place from any of the stories, and most could have taken place anywhere.

Some of the stories are experimental in nature. An early story intersperses a man's tale with the rough draft poems of his wife, who uses the poetry to react to his tale. One story, named Fleeting Complexity (which is linked to the location "Irby in the Marsh") consists, in its entirety, of the sentence "The fire spread quicker than the little bastard was expecting." Which is certainly a great sentence, but a story? Another is constructed as a bureaucratic report. The final story in the collection is Memorial Stone, and it consists of nothing but six pages of place names. All artfully grouped (e.g., places ending in -ham), but still...nothing but place names. I can appreciate that the author enjoys the sounds of the names, but I question whether it qualifies as fiction. I would consider the experimental pieces a mixed bag: some work well (I liked the story I mention above, with interspersed prose and poem), while some left me cold. Again, my opinion.

In the more traditional short stories, my two favorites were linked by characters (a vicar and his wife). A number of the stories are quite engaging.
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Format: Paperback
Jon McGregor doesn't so much tell stories as invite the reader to find them. Take the first two items in this collection, one short, the other fairly long. "That Colour" is a single paragraph of just over a page. A woman standing in the front row of a cottage calls to a man washing dishes in the kitchen to come and look at the autumnal leaves over the road. He finishes the washing; he comes to her; he takes her hand. That is all. But the writing makes you ask questions -- about their relationship, their ages, their history, their mental health -- and your questions are the heart of this beautiful story.

The second story, "In Winter the Sky," is much longer. But more than that, it is composed of two separate layers. The main one is about a man confessing to his wife about something that happened when they were courting, years before. But every few paragraphs, in the Kindle edition, you get a phrase formatted as a hyperlink. Click on it, and you see what seems like the draft of a fragment of a poem, apparently written by the wife, with alternate texts and crossings-out. [In print editions, these appear on facing pages.] The relevance of the poems is evocative rather than literal; their images distill the flat fenland country of East Lincolnshire in which all these stories are set. Eventually, you get crossings-out in the prose text too, as if facts could be changed by the manner in which you tell them; as though the mistakes of life could be edited away. And all this in a landscape perpetually subject to editing of a physical kind, as frequent floods erase and rearrange the land.

Every story in the collection is headed with the name of a place, often just a small village you can hardly see on the map.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of thirty stories. most of them take place in Eastern England.

In these stories the characters are poor and lonely village people stuck in time with no plans for the future. The stories tell about the disruptions and frustrations they face in their daily lives.

In Vessel, it is winter, when out of nowhere an acquaintance decides to pay a visit to a recently widowed woman. He arrives with tulips and hands them to her. She is totally surprised at this offering. He is hoping that she will let him stay in the guest room in exchange for doing chores around the house. She flatly refuses and politely shows him the door.

In If It Keeps On Raining, every morning a man wakes up and empties his bladder outside his front door. He is building a tree house by the river in the event of a flood.

In Keeping Watch Over The Sheep, a father with marital problems comes to see his daughter Rachel at her first ever school nativity. At the door he is told he isn't allowed on the school premises.

In We Wave And Call, exams are over and a group of friends decide to go to the sea to do some snorkeling. After a while, it is time to leave. One of the boys decides to stay in a bit longer and will catch up with them shortly. A bus will be coming to pick them up. He puts the mask back on and lies on his back in the warm water. When he decides to head back, he waves but no one sees him. He calls but no one hears him. He looks around and realizes he is further out than he thought.

The last six pages titled Memorial Stone are filled with names of places, names of deceased people and made up names that left me in stitches.
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