Saturday, 29 May 2010

Nick (Marmite) Hornby

I'm only giving him that middle name because that's how he *is* for me.  Or rather his books seem to be.  He's probably a veritable LifeAndSoul-type person in reality but I'll never know... unless he reads this of course and decides to respond  - in much the same way as ageing rock-legend-turned recluse, Tucker Crowe does to Annie in his latest offering, "Juliet, Naked" (there).
I've been over to Amazon and read the reviews of this because, to be honest I thought I was missing the point and not seeing the funny side and certainly totally lost with the cover-tag that it's 'ingenious, funny, moving' and 'vintage Hornby' - because it just didn't happen with me. In fact I didn't even really get into it properly until about 2/3rds of the way through and apart from a couple of wittily, sharply-observed conversations between the main characters (Hornby does do dialogue brilliantly) I pretty much went "Meh..." at the end.
Thankfully, the reviews tell me I'm not alone.

Don't get me wrong, I am a die-hard 'High Fidelity' fan and even though John (swoon) Cusack and the movie came first, I have read the book, like a zillion times (okay then three - but it's almost unheard of for me to pick up a book-again... and I've watched that particular movie a hundred times and bought it for people who haven't even ever mentioned a penchant for it - simply because EVERYONE should see it.. and read the book.  In fact, there should be a Law) and I love it.  If the book were a living, breathing thing, then I would be camped outside it's apartment right now with a portaloo, a stove and a whole load of non-perishable foodstuffs waiting for a sighting. I'd probably even throw myself at it's ridiculously perfect feet and beg it to marry me.  But I also know I wouldn't be worthy and I'd expect to be turned down.

When I started writing teenage fiction, I knew that the Girl had read Hornby's YA book, 'Slam' and she'd loved it - even though it's predominately male-MC biased and there's a lot of skateboarding stuff happening (Tony Hawkes features A LOT in this) and so I started to read it.  But I didn't finish it.  Which, again, I hate to do.  Especially when there's the whole High Fidelity thing going on.  I almost felt disrespectful to such a writing giant for not making more of an effort, but that was the whole trouble - it was feeling more and more like an effort to pick it up and carry on.  So I didn't.  I loved the start and the premise and the whole first third but the minute the premise took an (expected and yet) unexpected veer off course, it threw me so hard I couldn't get my balance back.

Same thing happened with 'A Long Way Down'.   I even pre-ordered this and couldn't have been more excited when I settled down with a lovely big hardback... and I really, truly persevered with this, thinking it would get better - it really,really would.  But I ended up not liking, warming, or even caring about any of the characters and I felt like pushing them all off of the building they'd assembled at the top of - to do us all a favour.

It's a shame when an author delivers such a belter of a book and High Fidelity, for me will always be Number One on my Favourites List (a lists theme runs all the way through the book too, and this is another thing I *heart* about it) and subsequent books fall short of expectations.
Maybe mine are just too Great.
Meh-be.

14 comments:

Keris said...

I really enjoyed Juliet, Naked, but the ending was weak. I LOVED Slam though, loved it. But I completely agree re A Long Way Down - I was thinking "God, just JUMP already!"

Xuxana said...

Never read a Nick Hornby in my life. Does that make me super unlearned? Whateva! ;)

Clodagh said...

I quite enjoyed Juliet, Naked, though I thought it fizzled out at the end. I really liked A Long Way Down. Haven't read all Nick Hornby's book, but About A Boy is my favourite - I adore that.

Talli Roland said...

I've never read Juliet, Naked but I loved reading High Fidelity! I must read anothet to actually see if I like his style or not.

Debs Riccio said...

Keris - at least I got to the end - just felt a bit let down when I got there. Yeah - ditto 'jump already!'
Suz - no - not super unlearned - but you HAVE TO READ 'High Fidelity' - it's the Law!
Clodagh - saw 'About a Boy' as movie and thought it was 'okay' but not worth reading - unless it's WAY better - is it?
Tally - so glad you liked HF too - but you're asking the wrong person which one to read next - maybe try Slam as Keris and the Girl liked it?

Xuxana said...

Oh, I didn't know he wrote 'About a Boy'. I've seen that and liked it quite a lot. So can I just go see the film 'High Fidelity' instead? ;)

Clodagh said...

I love the film of About a Boy, but I think the book is even better. You might only be 'meh' about it, though, if you only think the film is okay.

Debs Riccio said...

Suz - if you see (and love) the HF movie - you will HAVE TO read the book as not only is the movie based in USA and the book in UK, there're also scenes in the book that made me howl (with laughter) that weren't in the film.
A project for you!
Clodagh - the thing that made me squirm (apart from Hugh Grant's acting) in 'AAB' was the Boy's fringe - I couldn't focus on anything else properly (so easily distracted!)

Xuxana said...

Oh well if you put it that way, Debs. I think I will read the book first!

Keris said...

I'm meh on About a Boy book and film.

Clodagh, you're the first person I've ever heard who liked A Long Way Down! Srsly!

And no one's mentioned How to Be Good. Meh.

Debs Riccio said...

Oooh Keris, I forgot about 'How to be Good' - I loved that - thought it was witty and clever and just great - feel bad about leaving it out of the post now - ah well... it IS one of (still only two, IMO) his best. Thanks for reminding x

Michele said...

I'll jump in the same boat as Suz and say I've never read any books by Nick Hornby(I've been busy, what can i say?) Tho, Iloved the film, Hi Fidelity

Debs Riccio said...

Would love to hear what you think of the book Michele - when you have time to read it I mean! x

Clodagh said...

Keris, I think I'm the only person I've heard of liking A Long Way Down too! Apart from my sister, but we always like the same stuff - it's a gene pool thing.

I haven't read How To Be Good. I'm not sure I've read High Fidelity either. Have seen the movie though.