Jon McGregor — So Many Ways to Begin
In this potent examination of family and memory, Jon McGregor charts one man’s voyage of self-discovery. Like Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, So Many Ways to Begin is rich in the intimate details that shape a life, the subtle strain that defines human relationships, and the personal history that forms identity. David Carter, the novel’s protagonist, takes a keen interest in history as a boy. Encouraged by his doting Aunt Julia, he begins collecting the things that tell his story: a birth certificate, school report cards, annotated cinema and train tickets. After finishing school, he finds the perfect job for his lifetime obsession — curator at a local history museum. His professional and romantic lives take shape as his beloved aunt and mentor’s unravels. Lost in a fog of senility, Julia lets slip a secret about David’s family. Over the course of the next decades, as David and his wife Eleanor live out their lives — struggling through early marriage, professional disappointments, the birth of their daughter, Eleanor’s depression, and an affair that ends badly — David attempts to physically piece together his past, finding meaning and connection where he least expects it.