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THIS ISN'T THE SORT OF THING THAT HAPPENS TO SOMEONE LIKE YOU: Jon McGregor is book club guest author on Tues 16 April, 9-10pm

(134 Posts)
TillyBookClub Fri 15-Feb-13 12:03:58

Our March Book of the Month is a short story 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 thirty tales is completely different, with a unique voice. All the characters seem to be threatened in some way; some manage to find peace, some are thrust further into danger.

Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize and winner of numerous awards, Jon McGregor is a particularly skillful and distinctive writer. His style is strange, mysterious, authentic, unusual and poetic. 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.'

You can find more details on our March book of the month page.

You can get your paperback or Kindle version of the book here.

And don't miss the insider knowledge on all Jon's work, his BBC Short Story Awards and who he considers to be a ground-breaking British writer at his excellent website or you can follow him on Twitter: @jon_mcgregor

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 Tuesday 16 April, 9-10pm. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and join in the author chat on Tues 16.

Looking forward to hearing what you think...

jennywren123 Mon 18-Mar-13 08:18:03

Still waiting for my copy from the library. Apparently it is now in-transit to my local library but I found out recently that they only have fortnightly deliveries, so I'm not holding out too much hope of getting and reading it before next Tuesday! sad

SergeantSnarky Tue 19-Mar-13 02:55:37

Bloomsbury - Jon reads one of the stories from collection- Well worth a listen.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Mar-13 10:52:23


Bloomsbury - Jon reads one of the stories from collection- Well worth a listen.

Here's the link to Jon reading from his short stories.

Thanks for flagging SergeantSnarky.

gazzalw Tue 19-Mar-13 16:53:12

I will listen to this later on.

Had a hunt int the local library for the book but couldn't find it.

TillyBookClub Wed 20-Mar-13 12:06:37


We're putting the March webchat back a bit, to give everyone a chance to receive/get hold of/read their copies, and to avoid the Easter mayhem. So you now have 3 extra weeks to get your questions ready - do post your thoughts and questions up here at any time.

Hope that everyone manages to secure a copy - it is a remarkable, beautiful book. I'm happy to post mine to anyone who can't get their hands on one...just let me know.

TillyBookClub Wed 20-Mar-13 12:08:57

Oh, and a quick reminder to those who do receive a free copy - could you post here when it arrives, so we know they've got there safely? Thank you...

HazelDormouse Wed 20-Mar-13 12:27:48

Received of a copy through the post this morning. Thank you. Look forward to reading it. Pleased to hear that there is now an extra three weeks for the webchat.

HormonalHousewife Thu 21-Mar-13 16:54:36

Fantastic - just got home and checked the mail box to find a free copy and then logged on here to find the webchat has been changed - yahay !
I am really looking forward to reading this and asking a question as like I said remarkable things was a really good read.

ElectricSoftParade Thu 21-Mar-13 18:28:43

Received a copy this morning. Thank you.

TillyBookClub Fri 22-Mar-13 12:41:56

Glad to hear the copies are coming through the door, do put your thoughts and questions up here whenever you can - the more advance ones the better, as we can hopefully then get everyone answered on 16th...

And marvellous to see Jon as the main pic in Observer's line-up of Best Young British writers...

Fingers crossed he will be on the official Granta Top 40 list when it is announced on 4th April - we'll keep you posted.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 13:45:15

I've yet to track this down in a library. Might head to Waterstone's tomorrow!

SunshinePanda Sat 23-Mar-13 16:24:27

Just received mine - thanks. Looking forward to curling up on the sofa and getting started.

lilibet Sat 23-Mar-13 20:02:55

I'm really enjoying this, so much more than I thought I would. Tilly how much would I have to bribe you to have one question per story? Plus follow up of course? wink

Janimoso Mon 25-Mar-13 11:56:32

I am bowing out of this one this month guys. I did start reading it, got two thirds of the way through but its not my thing. So I am onto next months book... see you then :-)

HormonalHousewife Mon 25-Mar-13 12:43:49

I've devoured mine in about 48 hours. What put you off Janimoso ?

Agree with Lillibet in that we might need more than one question each as some of it was a bit complicated... any chance Tilly grin

gailforce1 Mon 25-Mar-13 18:15:37

My copy arrived today so thank you to MN and the publishers. Looking forward to settling dowm and starting tonight!

PointeShoes Tue 26-Mar-13 10:25:03

I have just started reading it , downloaded it, seems quite interesting so far. Will have more of a read at nap time.

brendarenda Sat 30-Mar-13 18:41:46

I've just finished the book. I'd read the story 'If it keeps on raining' in another short story collection and it's stuck with me ever since. The thing that I found interesting in this collection is the way a darker reality seems to be lurking right on the edge of the 'everyday'. Like the boy floating in the sea, you're balanced between two very different outcomes - and there's just a cigarette paper between them. I found the stories quite hard to read, because I was often dreading the ending too much - and of course the story ends just before the 'ending' - and somehow not knowing makes it all the more powerful. I'd like to know how Jon McGregor goes about getting the balance right between what's in the story and what he leaves out. Does he write a 'bigger' story and then edit it back to its essence, I wonder?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 01-Apr-13 17:33:18

I seem to have inadvertently reported a post (my iPhone has a mind of its own here instead of posting I've received my copy but only recently.

TillyBookClub Wed 03-Apr-13 11:05:09

No bribes necessary. You can absolutely have more than one question each, given the nature of the book.

Do put (all) your questions up here and I will start sending to Jon.

Just to remind everyone again, Jon will be joining us on Tuesday 16th April, 9-10pm.

HazelDormouse Sat 06-Apr-13 20:34:32

The stories remind me of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads due to how carefully both writers seem to choose their words and a sense of the ordinary, with a sometimes dark undercurrent.

The stories within the collection seem to resonate with each other. For example 'Have yet to be found' ('Remains') makes you think back to 'In Winter the Sky'. Forcing you to view the latter story from a different perspective. After reading 'Airshow', 'Memorial Stone' (A bit confused by this list of place names - actually rather puzzled by the significance of places and maps in the stories in general) only makes sense to me by thinking of those who have been lost to war and violence.

My questions are these:

1. Do you believe any other writers have influenced this particular collection, and if so, who?
2. How would you want the reader (ideally) to approach this collection? Do you think it matters that a reader just dips in and out of the work, not reading them in any particular order?

Pinkbatrobi Wed 10-Apr-13 03:15:55

Hi there, first of all thanks very much for my copy, which arrived after I'd forgotten all about it (I'm quite new to MN!) and was a lovely surprise. Sorry too that it didn't occur to me to post it when I got it, but had to be told about this thread by a friend... Bear with me, I'll learn, eventually grin

About the book, I also find short stories generally unsatisfactory, precisely for that sense of being left with loads of questions and not enough clues as to the answers... The literary equivalent of coitus interruptus if I am allowed the analogy....

But I did enjoy reading these. Maybe the fact I live in Cambridge, at the edge of the landscape Jon describes so well...I was intrigued by the geographical connotations, the references to villages and places that are familiar. I loved the verbal prowess he displays in the different registers and styles of the prose; it reminded me of the "exercises de style" by Raymond Queneau - I wonder if Jon has read it? To me the whole book has a certain taste if the surrealist....So I guess the first question is: which story did he have more fun writing? And which was the most troublesome for him? Was there one he had to go back to to polish and rewrite?

And also, on a completely different level: what is going on with the woman whose car is hit by the sugarbeet? Why is the older guy standing with his arms tensed? He really lost me there. This is a bit I found really difficult to understand. Which I guess means he's succeeded, right? But still... I want to know!! I would love for him to elaborate/explain.

Last question: which one is his favourite character? The one he feels he's painted best?

Ps already recommended b

Pinkbatrobi Wed 10-Apr-13 03:17:37

*book to friends hmm not sure what happened there...

mayajan Wed 10-Apr-13 12:22:48

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

TillyBookClub Thu 11-Apr-13 11:18:53

Thanks to everyone for excellent questions so far - just a reminder for everyone to put their questions here before I send them to Jon this weekend.

(and pinkbatrobi, I am equally haunted by the sugarbeet story - I haven't stopped thinking about it for months, and desperate for Jon to explain what is happening at the end. But I expect that's not allowed...)

Looking forward to getting the answers on Tuesday, 9-10pm...

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