Wow. I’m plowing through these books like crazy. Blame it on my weekly visits to the library for the free and [mildly] entertaining children’s shows and my little one’s insatiable need for books, books, and more books.
Also, blame it on the fact that The Thesis is nearly over and I no longer have to scour through history books ad nauseam (I mean I love them, but sometimes you need a break from work!). Regardless of the reason, I’ve been reading books both good and bad, and after the piece of junk I recently finished, I was looking for something that was sure to be good.
Last week, I had the lucky fortune of walking past the “H” shelf of the adult fiction section of the library, and saw three little volumes staring up at me. How on Earth had I forgotten about my beloved Nick?!
Hornby’s High Fidelity is one of my favorite books. I just kind of “get” that book. I can insert myself into the story, I feel it, I swirl it around in my noggin, hold it close to my heart, chew it until it loses its flavor, whatever analogy you’d like to use to describe it, I’ve gotten into the book in a way that rarely happens for me.
I really identify with the main character in an unusual way. Of all the characters in lit, the fact that I identify most with its main character, Rob Fleming, and the literary representation of Elizabeth Gilbert in her memoirs probably says something about me. Probably something I wouldn’t really like, but I trust you Internets with my craziness, so whatever!
Anyway, I picked up Juliet, Naked, and wow. (((Clap. Clap. Clap.))) It deserves applause. (((Clap. Clap. Clap.)) Hornby’s characters have yet to strike me as anything other than authentic and realistic. It’s funny and subtle. The humor is real-life, with a hint of regret and bittersweet loneliness. The drama is nothing outlandish. And the prose? Well, the prose is just fantastic.
Hornby jumps from character to character, centering the story on Annie, her unfaithful and mildly pathetic long-term boyfriend Duncan, and Tucker Crowe: a washed up musician from the ’80s. Duncan is obsessed with Tucker and runs a website dedicated to Tucker’s music. These people are obsessed – like, ‘tween Twilight fangirl crazy obsessed. On steroids.
Turns out, Duncan and his co-fans have no clue about Tucker’s real life. Something changes though, when a new unplugged album, ‘Juliet, Naked’ is mailed to Duncan. He devours the album, thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world, and writes about it on the website. Conversely, Annie doesn’t think it’s all that wonderful at all. She thinks it’s like a sketch before the watercolor has been added to it; basically, it’s unfinished in her mind. Annie’s disgusted disagreement with Duncan’s review causes her to take a stab at writing and posts her own review of the album on the fansite.
Her single site post evolves into an online relationship with the real Tucker, and everything changes for the trio forever.
I love these British novels. They’re just different enough to be exotic, but very familiar – parts of London are easily mistaken for New York while running through the dialogue. Anyway, it did not disappoint.
Like literary sorbet, a Nick Hornby novel cleanses the reading palate, clears the mind, and is always a sure bet if you’re looking for a good read.