This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You by Jon McGregor: March book of the month
There is little time to waste with the short story. In just a few pages, the author has to grab our attention, create characters we care about and bring the plot to its climax. The very best short stories, with their ambiguity and surprise, can linger in one's mind even longer than a novel.
Our March Book of the Month is a collection that highlights the tremendous power and beauty of this form of fiction. This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You is set in a bleak, Fenland landscape where everyday lives are acted out in quiet communities.
Every one of the 30 tales is completely different, with a unique voice. A vicar's wife struggles with the arrival of an unwelcome stranger. A young swimmer tries to reach the shore. A father plans his treehouse as a retreat from impending disaster. All the characters seem to be threatened in some way; some manage to find peace, some are thrust further into danger.
Like Joyce's Dubliners, this book takes a group and breaks it down into the individual, the personal, the decisive moment. But it is hard to compare Jon McGregor to anyone: he has a particularly distinctive style. His writing is strange, mysterious, authentic, unusual and poetic. He manages to probe right into the heart of our true feelings, our hidden emotions and our struggles. Reading the book is like holding a delicate yet devastating crystal ball, containing strange, shape-shifting visions of the lives of others.
Linda Grant put it best, in her Financial Times review: "McGregor is the contemporary master of lives lived in what the Irish call a small way, and the belief, which is literature's, that we are all poetic."
About Jon McGregor
Jon McGregor was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. He is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, So Many Ways to Begin and Even the Dogs, and has twice been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. You can find details about all Jon's work on his excellent website, or you can follow him on Twitter @jon_mcgregor.
Book club discussion: Tues 16 April, 9-10pm
We are thrilled that Jon will be answering questions about This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You, his previous books and his writing career on Tues 16 April, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss.