Van has finished reading…If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

14 Sep

I wonder how many people saw me reading this book, on the train to work, on the train home again. Oh, it’s that one by that bloke, they might have said. Or perhaps they didn’t notice a change from the week before, were aware only of a man reading, who could have been reading and re-reading the same book, endlessly, turning the back page to the front and beginning over again. Squinting at the sunlight on the page, and then blinking, looking away and back to reclaim my place when the rushing trees dapple the light like faint words overlaid. Or the violence of a sideways glance when the school-kids shattered my concentration with their searching through three seconds of video clip after video clip on their phone for the one with the idiot drunk girl throwing up all over herself and then laughing all desolate and shrill.

Did they notice?

Did anyone see the moment when the strange magic a book holds took over, when I stopped wondering if I was going to enjoy it, if it was more than just a gimmicky throwing together of words and felt the form of it, the solidity that says, yes, there’s more to it, there’s a point to all this and if you just hold on, just keep going I promise you it’ll be worth it. Was there anyone there to notice, as all the characters talked around and around this thing that happened, this thing that becomes more and more momentous the less anyone is prepared to mention it, became apparent and my breathing quickened. And when it came, that moment, when it came and I had no idea which station we’d just passed but I couldn’t possibly look up to check because, because… When that moment came and it was what I thought it was until suddenly and unexpectedly it wasn’t, did anyone see my hand, that seemed a part of another me, a different me, did anyone see it lift up to hide my open mouth?

And what was it I saw, staring out the window after those last words? Light leaving the sky. People, hunched and hurried, watching their own feet find a way home. Trees changing from silver to green as the breeze pushed by.

Even now, typing these words, the story still alive, still vivid after three days, does anyone see the change, how the weight of those words has shifted my centre of gravity?

It’s remarkable, how a good book can do that. Just words, but they can do that.

If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things was published by Bloomsbury in 2002 ISBN: 9780747561576

You can find Jon on Twitter @jon_mcgregor and at his website


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