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In Winter the Sky / What the Sky Sees

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Photo by Paul Stainthorp.

In the summer of 2002, Granta’s Bad Company issue, which featured work by Milan Kundera, Arthur Miller, Gary Shteyngart and Edmund White, introduced a startlingly new voice: Jon McGregor. In his story ‘What the Sky Sees’, a young agriculture student from Lincolnshire is driving home after visiting his new lover, when he accidentally runs someone over. ‘As the car hit him his arms lifted up to the sky and his back arched over the bonnet and his legs slid under one of the wheels and his whole body was dragged down to the road and out of sight.’ Terrified of the consequences this will have on his chances of happiness, the man decides to bury the body and try to live with this secret knowledge, which inevitably takes a toll on his life and relationship. The story announced the arrival of one of the most significant talents of his generation, preceding the publication of McGregor’s first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.

Ten years, two novels and many short stories later, McGregor returned to this first published work in order to rewrite it from the female perspective. The result is ‘In Winter the Sky’, which we publish today alongside the original story so that readers can compare the two versions.

The opening paragraphs of ‘In Winter the Sky’:

He had something to tell her. He announced this the next day, after the fog had cleared, while the floods still lay over the fields. It looked like a difficult thing for him to say. His hands were shaking. She asked him if it couldn't wait until after she'd done some work, and he said that there was always something else to do, some other reason to wait and to not talk. All right, she said. Fine. Bring the dogs. They gave his father some lunch, and they walked out together along the path beside the drainage canal.

She knew what he wanted to tell her, but she didn't know what he would say.

To read ‘In Winter the Sky’ click here. ■

On on the Granta Podcast this Friday Jon McGregor will discuss the process of redrafting this story and his enduring fascination with Lincolnshire.

‘In Winter the Sky’ is taken from This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You by Jon McGregor, published by Bloomsbury on 2 February 2012 at £14.99. © Jon McGregor 2012.

Exit Strategies Live
6 February, doors open at 6.30 p.m., event starts at 7 p.m., The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL. £7, including a copy of Granta 118. Please RSVP to events@granta.com to reserve your place. Payment will be taken at the door.

In this special edition of Liars' League, Jon McGregor joins us to read from and discuss ‘In Winter the Sky’, his first-ever published story, found in Granta 78, and recently revised for his new story collection and the online edition of Exit Strategies. But first, actors from the live fiction salon perform stories of desire and conflict from Granta’s latest issue.

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