Book Reviews: Nick Hornby

Monday, February 22, 2010

To begin, I am a fan of Nick Hornby. I've loved some of his books, like High Fidelity, while others haven't quite hit the mark, (I'm looking at you How To Be Good.)

I've really loved his nonfiction collections on music and books, but his slightly autobiographical book Fever Pitch rambled a bit too much for my taste. But even when I don't love the story, I still really enjoy his style of writing.

That being said, I recently read two of his newest books. They are wildly different, but somehow both sound like Hornby.

by: Nick Hornby

The first is Slam, which tells the story of a teenage skater boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant and has to come to terms with the consequences. He dreams about the future when his child is a toddler. Told from his point-of-view, the plot meanders as the teen flits between selfish and confused thoughts, like any teenage boy.

The book didn't scratch the surface of emotions for me. This could be because I'm not a boy, or a teen or experiencing anything close to their situation. But I have connected with books that deal with similar plots, so I don't think that's it. It seemed like the boy, Sam, never really gets beyond the first feeling of shock in this situation. He seems very disconnected from the situation, like he's watching it all happen on TV.

Juliet, Naked
by: Nick Hornby

Juliet is about a middle-aged couple, Duncan and Annie, who live together in a small English town. Duncan has been obsessed with a retired musician, Tucker Crowe, for decades. When he and Annie break up she ends up connecting with Tucker.

This book was a perfect Hornby novel to me. It deals with music and troubled adult relationships, which are, in my opinion, Hornby's two greatest strengths when it comes to subject matter.

He writes from the point-of-view of all three characters, making the story even richer. They deal with feelings of failure, hope, and thoughts that they've wasted their lives. The books just rang true somehow. Hornby has a way of saying things we all think in a way that makes them seem profound. Juliet, Naked has its flaws, but I would rank it as one of his best.

p.s. I love Juliet's cover. It took me a second to see the two faces.


Mrslouwho said...

Yes, we can definitely be book buddies we are very much on the same Nick Hornby page. As regards Fever Pitch though, I was living in England trying to understand the phenomena that is football at the time of reading it, and it did help. I will never fall in love with any sport I think, particularly not football, but I now have a bit more sympathy for those who have. How to be Good on the other hand made me want to throw the book against the wall and not at all in a good way. I’ve never been happier to have a second choice of book.
Ps-I’m reading the third Thursday Next book now at your suggestion that I give her another try.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Part of me wonders if How to be Good's biggest faults stemmed from the fact that Hornby just wasn't ready to write from a woman's perspective yet. He did not get it.

That's awesome about Thursday. I hope you like it. You'll have to let me know.

LindyLouMac said...

You are right troubled relationships intermingled with music do seem to be his forte!

The cover of your copy is far nicer than the one I read.

Thanks for coming over to my review of this title and commenting, it is appreciated.