Saturday, May 5, 2007

jon mcgregor

The first picture is from the original release of McGregor's novel in the UK. The second, less austere, is the American version (Mariner books). This is a book i've been meaning to stress for some time and have been recommending to several friends because it is the kind of book that takes a simple story (a street accident that hides a mystery) as an excuse to explore the diverse relations in a neighbourhood filled with 'characters'. These are people that one could see walking in the streets, taking the bus, walking their dogs, etc, so what McGregor does is absolutely fantastic because he takes all these people and goes through their lifes and conflicts in an impressive, poetical way, just counting on the accident as a link to connect all this characters. He traces with great insight the private lives of every person, focusing on the ordinary and the minimal to display his magnificent poetic talent. Consequently, this is not a conventional novel, the dialogues are included in the narration and blank spaces are used to suggest time-space changes and phases. An example of McGregor's unconventional, almost experimental "ecstatic writing" (Times Literary Suplement):
"There was a soft muzzle of rain falling, there was a breathless silence in the air, and it was in that moment that I started thinking about it all over again.
About that last day of summer, three years before, the last day in that house.
The child, at the end of the day, and that moment of shocking inevitability".
This person is refering to the 'accident', the knot that ties the narrative throughout the novel. In an interview McGregor said that he was tired of being asked what this novel was about, and despite being longlisted for the booker, he got some nasty critics for his alleged 'affectation and adolescent approach', though I think otherwise. I would join this novel to Raymond Carver's poetic-symbolic prose in his best short stories.


Anonymous said...

The unique format the writer chose for this book was mesmerizing. The characters were identified by their apartment numbers. I got confused. Then nearly frantic. Then I realized it just didn't matter-each of them was immersed in the human experience and the common bond of the accident.

Nico said...

Yes, you're right about the apartment numbers (flats!). It is a unique format and a unique book. A new book of his came out last year, but I haven't read it. It would be nice to see how it is, what's the transition between the 2 works. THanks for your comment!

Antonia said...

it has a wonderful title. that alone makes me want to read it.