High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby

Man, I love Nick Hornby. I have this little problem I’ve mentioned before about novels written by men. I don’t try to be sexist in my reading, but when it comes to contemporary and historical fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, all nonfiction excepted — there are some great male writers in those areas) I find it hard to get into books by guys, as a sweeping general rule.

Nick Hornby is the glowing exception. He writes so well, he ought to be a woman — but he doesn’t write at all like a woman. Or rather, he does. He writes about being a man, the way so many (most?) women writers write about being women. I find Hornby’s characters, and his novels, funny, sad, real and insightful.

Amazing then, that the one Hornby novel I hadn’t read was his first bestseller, High Fidelity. I’d seen the movie with John Cusack years ago (I won’t sidetrack here into how much I love John Cusack, but you should know I’m tempted to digress!) I have finally remedied this shortcoming and am here to report on the results.

If you, like me until recently, are one of the few people who haven’t read High Fidelity, it’s a completely believable (to me, anyway) journey into the mind of a thirty-something man who suffers from the classic “inability to commit” in relationships. The main character, Rob, isn’t happy about anything in his life, and his discontent with himself leads him to do some pretty unpleasant things in his love life. (Not horribly unpleasant. Just jerk-like). It’s hard to feel anything but contempt for Rob, yet by the end you do feel some kind of sympathy, too — and a bit of hope.

Great book — lots of laughs, lots to think about. Now I think I’ve read all Nick Hornby’s novels and I need a new one. Get busy there Nick!

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