"If it Keeps on Raining" by Jon McGregor

Last night my ears pricked when I heard that Jon McGregor, whose short story “If It Keeps on Raining” was shortlisted story for the BBC National Short Story Award, on Radio 4’s Front Row, once lived on a narrow boat and that inspired his entry.

It appears that his boat was moored on the river at Nottingham (1999 - 2000) and that its cabin leaked, inspiring him to write a short story about impending rain and its effect on the river. The main protagonist in the short story is a man living beside a river who, fearing the world is soon to be destroyed by flood, builds a tree-house and a raft. He tries to decide who he should warn.

It appears from Jon McGregor’s web site that the title of the story is taken from the song, “When the Levee Breaks”, written and recorded by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929.

I particularly like the description of the man contemplating the crews of passing cruisers who wave at him, the angler across the river, the passing gravel barges and the yacht club members. The descriptions of the state of the river following rain are very evocative – shades of the Thames in 2007.

How did the story fare? – it was runner-up. You can listen to it as podcast.