Posted 20 hours ago

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

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Jon McGregor παρουσιάζει σαν μια κινηματογραφική εμπειρία σε χαρτί. Ο φακός της κάμερας μετακινείται συνεχώς από διαμέρισμα σε διαμέρισμα, εστιάζει σε συγκεκριμένες κινήσεις και πολλές φορές νιώθεις ότι το βίντεο είναι σε αργή κίνηση. Ο φακός συνεχίζει να εστιάζει μέχρι που η εικόνα παγώνει εντελώς. Διαβάζεις προτάσεις, παραγράφους, σελίδες και ο χρόνος παραμένει παγωμένος ενώ εσύ βιώνεις παρατεταμένα την ίδια στιγμή -πλέον αιωνιότητα- από πολλά σημεία. Δεν υπάρχει παρελθόν ούτε μέλλον. Μόνο ένα αιώνιο παρόν το οποίο όποτε θελήσει ο συγγραφέας θα επαναφέρει στην κανονική ροή του χρόνου. Who it is that dies is a surprise. I guess that is a positive point, but on the other hand it is said and then the book is immediately over and there you sit. A very abrupt ending. All of them are caught by the author on the day of the event. This is hinted at only with references like this.

In delicate, intricately observed close-up, this novel makes us privy to the private lives of residents of a quiet street over the course of a single day.That day it made me nervous and tense, unable to concentrate on anything while the noise of it clattered against the windows and the roof. There is the story of an unnamed women in her early 20s and her mother and father, and the young man who dwelt in flat number 18, Michael, and his brother. That is probably the main part of the novel.

Where the book did not work so well was in terms of the overall structure or plot, and in this it shows an issue I often find with modern English literature. Of course, I don't know how this book was written, but it feels like this to me: take a very talented writer, and then write to a predefined plan / plot and structure with a known outcome; don't allow any variation from that plot or structure; make sure the outcome is strongly hinted at all the way through so there is a sense of mystery being unraveled; don't unravel the mystery until the very end. This can work, but it all needs to be more subtle. In 2010, Jon McGregor received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nottingham, and was made an honorary lecturer in their School of English Studies.The novel presents a "day in the life" of an unnamed inner-city street. Like one of the characters, a young man who collects litter and junk and obsessively documents his existence with Polaroids, McGregor records people's ordinary lives through a series of snapshots on a late summer day. While the style is avant-garde, a kind of collage, rather than realist (McGregor doesn't like quote marks to denote dialogue, for instance, and his prose dips into a strongly poetic idiom at times), there is a drive to render the direct experience of the characters who populate the street: the "remarkable things" of the novel's title are very much the everyday. With its strongly visual and aural sensibility, its short scenes and rapidly edited changes of focus, it is easy to see the influence of filmmaking on his writing.

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