La primera novela del joven Jon Mac Gregor nos habla de personajes como nosotros, gente que vive en una calle y no saben apenas nada de la vida de sus vecinos a los que ven entrar y salir, niños a los que ven jugar en la calle…
Su intención era hablar de la vida en un barrio sin las habituales connotaciones de vidas marginales, droga o violencia. No hay nada de eso en esta historia sino apuntes de la vida de todos ellos, sin darles nombre siquiera…
De hecho en la edición japonesa se incluyó un pequeño dibujo con el croquis de las casas de aquella calle para que los lectores no se perdieran. La estructura de cada capítulo es siempre igual: nueve párrafos formados por 9 frases. Y 18 capítulos ya que la narradora de parte de la historia está embarazada de gemelos aunque todavía no lo sabe.
El autor explica que en un viaje a Japón visitó un santuario (el templo de Kamakura) donde las madres que habían perdido a sus hijos durante el embarazo, el parto o cuando eran muy pequeños llevan dulces, sombrillas de papel, ropa, regalos… que depositaban junto a las pequeñas figuras que representaban a sus niños perdidos. Esa imagen la acabó trasladando a la historia de su primera novela.
Dibujo a mano del autor con las viviendas de los personajes de la calle en que sucede la historia
Dibujo para la edición japonesa
Set on the last day of summer in 1997, on a street in an inner-city neighbourhood, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things explores the lives and relationships of people who don’t even know each other’s names. Students coming home at dawn; an old man painting the window-frames of his house; children playing in the street, a young man packing his possessions and getting ready to move away; barbecues, cricket, music, arguments, rain, and the whole day building towards a shocking climax which will be remembered some years later by a young woman who was there and now finds a reason to look back.
Jon McGregor on writing If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things
“If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things started life, partly, as a book about the reaction to the death of Princess Diana. Taken aback, as most people were, by the hysteria which erupted in late August 1997, I wanted to tell a story about a street where life was going on regardless, where more important things were happening, where the word ‘tragedy’ would have a greater meaning. I was also interested in writing about a version of urban life which I felt was being neglected in British fiction of the time: fiction which seemed to equate urban life with crime, drugs, poverty, and a distinctly vacuous ‘edginess’. I wanted to take a day in the life of one street in a city, and try to show the vast multiplicity of stories which were happening there, and to look at how those stories interacted with each other in an environment where people were constantly moving in and out and rarely knew each other’s names.
The novel was written, mostly, between September 1999 and February 2001; but the idea had formed earlier, mainly while I was living and studying in Bradford. Indeed, it would be fair to say that while I’ve always insisted that the setting for the book could be “any town in northern England”, it is essentially set in Bradford.
The other main starting point for the book was the number of times I saw children in that street having to get out of the way – very quickly – of cars. I was disturbed by the sight of these near-misses, and haunted by the what-if of them, and so decided to write about it. In fact, my original concept for the novel was that it would take place over the course of the thirty seconds it would take for one of these near-misses to happen or to not happen. It proved impossible to stretch thirty seconds over the course of a whole novel and in the end my attempt was reshaped to form the closing chapter of the novel.