Autumn (_autumncolours) wrote,

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Book Rec

Eh, I know. Long time (ish), no of these days I'll learn to update regularly for more than just the occasional weekend, I swear. Maybe. :)

Aaanyway, I'm hoping ('hoping' being the key word there!) to do a proper update later tonight, or some point this weekend, at any rate. This post is simply to share the wonders of an amazing book I read.

'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things' by Jon McGregor. I've never heard of it before, but I was searching for something completely different in Redditch library the other day and the title caught my eye. Just because it's so wonderful, the opening

If you listen, you can hear it.
The city, it sings.
If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of a street, on the roof of a house.
It's clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.
It's a wordless song, for the most, but it's a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings.
And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.

The low soothing hum of air-conditioners, fanning out the heat and the smells of shops and cafes and offices across the city, winding up and winding down, long breaths layered upon each other, a lullaby hum for tired streets.
The rush of traffic still cutting across flyovers, even in the dark hours a constant crush of sound, tyres rolling across tarmac and engines rumbling, loose drains and manhole covers clack-clacking like cast-iron castanets.
Road-menders mending, choosing the hours of least interruption, rupturing the cold night air with drills and jack-hammers and pneumatic pumps, hard-sweating beneath the fizzing hiss of floodlights, shouting to each other like drummers in rock bands calling out rhythms, pasting new skin on the veins of the city.
Restless macxhines in workshops and factories with endless shifts, turin, presning and pumping and steaming and sparking, pressing and rollling and weaving and printing, the hard crash and ring and clatter lifting out of echo-high buildings and sifting into thenight, an unaudited product beside the paper and cloth and steel and bread, the packed and the bound and the made.
Lorries reversing, right round the arc of industrail parks, it seems every lorry in town is reversing, bascking through gateways, easing up ramps, shrill-calling their presence while forklift trucks gas and prang around them, heaping and stacking and loading.
And all the alarms, calling for help, each district and quarter, each street and estate, each every way you turn has alarms going off, coming on, going off, coming on, a hammered ring like a light ning drum-roll, like a mesmeric bell-toll, the false and the real as loud as each other, cruing their needs to the night like an understaffed orphanage, babies waawaa-ing in darkened wards.
Sung sirens, sliding through the streets, straking blue light from distress to distress, the slow wail weaving urgency through the darkest of the dark hours, a lament lifted high, held above the rooftops and fading away, lifted high, flashing past, fading away.

And all these things sing constant, the machines and the sirens, the cars blurting hery and rumbling all headlong, the hoots and the shoots and the hums and the crackles, all come together and rouse like a choir, sinking and rising with the turn of the wind, the counter and solo, the harmony humming expecting more voices.

So listen.
Listen, and there is more to hear.
The rattle of a dustbin lid knocked to the floor.
The scrawl and scratch of two hackle-raised cats.
The sudden thundercrash of bottles emptied into crates.
The slam-slam of car doors, the changing of gears, the hobbled clip-clop of a slow walk home.
The rippled roll of shutters pulled down on late-night cafes, a crackled voice crying street names for taxis, a loud scream that lingers and cracks into laughter, a band that might jsut be an old car backfiring, a callbox calling out for an answer, a treeful of birds tricked into morning, a whistle and a shout and a broken glass, a blare of soft music and a blam of hard beats, a barking and yelling and singing and cryingg and it all swelles up all the rumbles and crashes and banging and slams, all the noise and the rush and the non-stop wonder of the song of the ciry you can hear if you listen the song

and it stops

in some rare and sacred dead time, sandwiched between the late sleepers and the early risers, there is a miracle of silence.

Everything has stopped.

And the silence drops down from out of the night, into this city, the briefest of silences, like a falter between heartbeats, like a darkness between blinks. Secretly, there is always this moment, an unexpected pause, a hesitation as one day is left behind and a new one begins.
A catch of brfeath as gasometer lungs begin slow exhalations.
A ring of tinnitus as thermostats interrupt air-conditioning fans.
These moments are there, always, but they are rarely noticed and they rarely last longer than a flicker of a thought.
We are in that moment now, there is silence and the whole city is still.

Give it a try, won't you? It's a simply gorgeous book :) You'd all probably enjoy it, but in particular Dede, Juli, Lauren if she was still around :(, Anna...*shrug* It's definitely worth a look - it'll take your breath away.
Tags: books, reading
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