Monday, July 11, 2011

Long Time No Nick

now finished: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Nick! I missed you, Nick!  Nick Hornby is one of those authors whose words I love so much that I actually don't devour all their books immediately, but instead I move slowly through their oeuvre, savoring it, so that I never run out of books by them to read. Who are "those" other authors, you ask?  Well, at the moment I would say Nelson DeMille and Virginia Woolf and Nick are my solid trinity in that category. It is a lot easier for me to do with those boys, who are alive, of course, and still writing, as opposed to my girl V.W. who is sadly not going to provide us with any more of her writing. I'm going to finish her oeuvre someday soon, plain and simple.

I see echoes of Virginia Woolf in Nick Hornby. That's right, I said it. Not in word choice or style, exactly. And no, not because of the suicide theme. (Although...)  It's more of a sensibility that understands and communicates the life of a Londoner so well, complete with all those inner thoughts, while interacting with people in the world, yet being pensive and kind of removed from others, but not brooding in alienation (a la Salinger). There's something connecting those two. I would love to imagine a meeting between Nick Hornby and Virginia Woolf.

Anyway, A Long Way Down. It has been a few years since I Fever Pitched, but there I was at book swap and someone had brought A Long Way Down  to trade and for me the chance at a free copy of a Nick Hornby I haven't read is a no-brainer. Let me just say that I adored it! It might even be my favorite of his. The perfect lines, the way he nails each character personality as they spew out their pithy takes on the world.

The morbid premise is that four strangers meet on top of a tall London building (I think I should know what building it is he alludes to, but didn't) on New Year's Eve because they are all planning to jump but instead, because they are all there, they don't jump, and the book chronicles what happens to the four of them next. It's a sheer joy to read, while also being full of sarcasm, thoughtfulness, and some true life pondering as well as hope. What more could you ask from a novel? I daresay Voltaire would be impressed.

I'm trying to get Brian to read it. One of these days, he is going to read the Nick. He already means to read Fever Pitch, and I am sure he will read High Fidelity because he appreciates the genius of the movie, so soon, soon he will know the brilliance that is Nick Hornby. Virginia Woolf is a harder sell. (But she shouldn't be!)

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