As it is coming up to Nick Hornby’s birthday, I thought what better time to tell you all about his 1995 novel High Fidelity. Shamefully, I hadn’t previously read anything by Hornby and I must admit, the only reason I picked up the book in the first place was because I was told to do so for a popular fiction module at University. I then, of course, went into my usual ‘oh woe is me, I hate being told what books I have to read’ and begrudgingly began to read. As per usual, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. (Shock – it’s almost as if those university lecturers know what they’re doing). Do you know when you can tell whether you’re into a book or not within the first few pages? Try the first few sentences…
‘My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:
- Alison Ashworth
- Penny Hardwick
- Jackie Allen
- Charlie Nicholson
- Sarah Kendrew.
These are the ones that really hurt. Can you see your name in that lot, Laura?’
Who are they? What happened? WHO IS LAURA?!
Don’t worry guys, I shall tell you.
Laura is the girlfriend – well, ex-girlfriend – of Rob Fleming, a 35-year-old record shop owner with absolutely nothing going right for him. His record shop pretty much sells no records whatsoever, his only friends are his employees Barry and Dick, and Laura has left him for the man in the flat upstairs (the icing on the top of an already terrible cake). On his journey to self-discovery (i.e wallow in self-pity), Rob decides to track down his previous girlfriends whilst simultaneously harassing Laura’s new boyfriend. In essence, Rob is essentially the stereotypical middle-aged man who is obsessed with music and terrified of commitment and rejection.
Yikes. This should be fun.
Before I dived head first into the book, I read many reviews trying to fish out whether I would like it or not – I didn’t have high hopes. Everyone complains about his incessant whining making him less likeable as the plot goes on, but I have to disagree. Well, I can’t deny that he doesn’t whine pretty much all the time, but it’s sort of what makes me genuinely laugh with him. Well, at him I suppose. But that’s the hilarious way in which Hornby has written the novel as he has taken quite a mundane, mopey character, and brought him to life with wit and humour.
If you have High Fidelity sitting on your bookshelf and are waiting for the right time to pick it up, the time is now! A brilliant, laugh out loud read.