This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

Jon McGregor

First Sentence:    She threw her pint glass across the garden and told him to just shut up.

Jon McGregor is a really really good writer. I read Even The Dogs a while back and thought it deserved a lot more recognition than it got. For me it did exactly what The Buddha in the Attic tried, and yet failed, to do. It is a book with a believable and engaging voice carried throughout, with the perfect amount of plot to keep the narrative flowing. Like The Buddha in the Attic, Even the Dogs uses the communal ‘we’ as its narrator, but where Otsuka fails to sustain this chorus effect for an entire novel without it appearing gimmicky or irritating, McGregor uses with such apparent ease  (or so it seems) that we soon forget about it. In This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, there is no shortage of treats on offer. The stories range from brief ones, sometimes just a sentence or two, to more fleshed out tales. For example, here’s one entire ‘story’:

Chinese restaurants, launderettes, baked-potato vans. These are a few of my favourite extractor-fans.

It only has a few more words than the title of the book! Long or short however, each one is sublime in its own way and if you haven’t read any Jon McGregor before, this is the perfect introduction. Read it.

* * * *

Last Sentence:     She was thoughtful like that.

Last Sentence explained:    The story getting the First Sentence Last Sentence treatment ( Thoughtful ) is one of those very short ones. In fact, I may as well just fill in the missing sentences, instead of trying to give you a sense of it. As I said above, just read it:

She threw the ashtray as well. Bloody just shut up, she told him. He looked at her. He didn’t say anything. He moved his drink away from her side of the table. She stood up and went to fetch the pint glass and the ashtray, tucking them both under her arm while she plucked the cigarette-ends from the damp grass and collected them in the palm of her hand.

Advertisements