Reviews


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This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You is published by Bloomsbury.

“Jon McGregor writes with frightening intelligence and impeccable technique. Every page is a revelation.”

—Teju Cole, author of Open City

The New York Times called Jon “this wicked English writer” in its review, describing the stories as:

“30 electric tales of menace…This is a book of ominous preludes and chilling aftermaths”

Read the full New York Times review here

Oprah selected the book as her Book of the Week and had this to say about it:

“When you’re reading a book of short stories, it’s pretty common to dog-ear the corner of the story (or two or three) that really wins you over, that really makes you stop and say, “Ouch!” or “Wow!” or “Dear god, it really is all about forgiveness, isn’t it?” This week, of the 29 stories in Jon McGregor’s collection, I dog-eared 26…each tale in this slim, elegant book does something most of us wish would happen to us in real life: It stops us in a humdrum moment and reveals how that small, unnoticed sliver of time can illuminate an entire life.”

Read Oprah’s full review here.

“McGregor’s fiction, as amply demonstrated by this virtuoso display of storytelling, oscillates between the ordinary and extraordinary with a seemingly effortless ease. McGregor is a writer’s writer in the sense that he is a master craftsman…more importantly, he is also a reader’s writer.”

Wales Arts Review

“…read Jon McGregor’s new book. Its verve, its inventiveness, its sheer quiet audacity will reassure you that the short story is alive, well and reaching new heights.”

The Guardian

The article above was followed closely by a letter in The Guardian from Di Speirs who is Editor of Readings at BBC Radio Drama. She sees Jon’s new collection as a sign that the short story is in great form. Read more here.

“Pure joy just about sums up Jon McGregor’s collection of short stories…McGregor is the nearest thing you will ever come across to a literary Beethoven. Words go beyond being tools of his trade and become an orchestrated, inspired and precisely designed tone poem for each creative idea.”

The Sunday Express

“Jon McGregor has not only outdone himself with his latest work, but contradicted himself, too.”

The Irish Times

One blogger is currently reviewing each story in the collection, as he reads it. You can see his ‘forethoughts’ on the book – and his first individual reviews, here. Another blogger calls one of Jon’s stories a great example of flash fiction.

The Observer had this to say

“The 30 fiercely imagined stories in Jon McGregor’s collection share an extraordinary topophilia…The land is being eaten away by the waves, villages drop off the map, everything is shifting and uncertain: the perfect backdrop for McGregor’s deceptively chatty but ultimately unsettling narrative voice…The energy of these stories is driven as much by what is withheld as what is revealed; we are constantly left guessing, filling in blanks, looking for islands of stability. Subtly, the book knits us into its blackly apocalyptic sensibility, so that even those stories not dealing specifically with the coming flood carry a shiver of dread…Sharp, dark and hugely entertaining, this collection establishes McGregor as one of the most exciting voices in short fiction.”

While the Daily Mail said

“Set in and around the fens, these wickedly brilliant stories are as black as the local soil…most of these stories are riven with unease, and the standout Supplementary Notes To The Testimony Of Appellants B & E… is genuinely terrifying…Throughout, omissions and ellipses set the mind racing like a treacherous tide, rushing in to fill the gaps. Not a book for bedtime, then. But very, very good indeed.”

The Independent’s view was 

“McGregor’s writing is so distinctive that it becomes hard to compare to another. There is a precision and a poetry to his prose. There is, in these brooding stories, that same sense of impending cataclysm that gave his debut, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, its intrigue. We are left…certain only of the fact that in McGregor’s world, terrible things can happen to ordinary people. The collection’s title is ironic, and it inverts the moral idea that only the wicked should suffer.”

newbooks Magazine says it is written by

“a master of micro-fiction”.

Writer Debra Martens said in her review of the book for Numéro Cinq that

“the collection as a whole is disquieting – rather like listening to the dark albums of one of McGregor’s favourite bands, Pulp.”

Another reviewer saw This Isn’t The Sort of Thing… as “both a novel and stories”.

“It’s an expansive and lyrical collection and deserves all of your attention. It’s brilliant.”

Booktrust

We Love This Book, part of The Bookseller Group, said

“Don’t pick this book up expecting a standard collection of short stories.”

We like that the book was featured on a music writer’s blog. You can read what they thought here

A blogging book collector thinks that the stories “are an unsettling bunch…from a writer who clearly loves the genre and has considerable mastery of it”. Read the full review here. 

“The prose is picked clean, pellucid.”

—The Telegraph

The book has even won a mention from Robert McCrum for the way it’s dressed…

Some very fine writers have also had some very fine things to say:

“Jon McGregor’s stories are strange and lovely masterpieces: painfully authentic, inquisitive rather than confrontational, he has a tremendous ability to disturb the surface of everyday things. In this collection the vast skies and silts of the Lincolnshire fens are sensually evoked and the austerely beautiful landscape exposes the most intimate details of his characters’ lives; their secrets, their crimes and desires. Underneath that which is radically quotidian, he captures our unique and unusual selves.”

—Sarah Hall, author of The Electric Michelangelo

“Jon McGregor’s uncanny stories linger long after you have finished them. His odd, elegant sentences are deeply engaging. He quietly inserts distinct, convincing voices into vivid and compelling landscapes. The stories have an undertow of human loneliness and desperation, yet they can be quite funny. This original, beautiful, and haunting book totally captivated me.”

–Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia and National Book Award Finalist Eat the Document

“Jon McGregor is one of the UK’s most fascinating and versatile writers. The fact that most American readers have never heard of him does not speak well of us. Let’s all buy his book NOW.”

–Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“With the depth, range, and quiet restraint of these masterly, truth-bearing stories of blighted hinterland souls, Jon McGregor holds his own among the wisest writers alive.”

—Gary Lutz, author of Divorcer

“These stories by Jon McGregor feel as if they are made half of words and half of the earth. They are elegant, understated, sometimes wry, and yet full of the drama and passion of life.”

—Matthew Sharpe, author of You Were Wrong

“Jon McGregor’s stories are full of unremarkable landscape, destabilizing drama, and people— pinned in place by themselves. But they gleam with endearing detail. Depictions of a plain afternoon, an impatient conversation or a menacing gesture swing the reader though hairpin curves, from precarious, to terrifying and finally to okay. His writing is unnerving, unconventional and lovely.”

—Leanne Shapton, author of Was She Pretty?

“These stories are illuminated by Jon McGregor’s fearless and humane imagination. Both tragic and comic, they form a polyphonic portrait of a people and a place. Exhilarating.”

- Katie Kitamura, author of The Longshot