Friday, April 14, 2006

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

it’s strange how a book that’s so easy to read is so hard to review. i’ve been postponing writing this review for over a week now as everytime i sit down to write, my mind becomes a blank. i figured the only way through this problem is to set up a self-imposed deadline and thus coerce myself to write something come hell or high water. now enough with my pathetic attempt at schmaltz and let me begin ……

the novel “high fidelity” is a fictional story written in the first person. rob flemming, a regular “bloke” in his thirties, narrates the past events of his life in terms of the girls he’s dated and the music he’s listened to.

he is attached to music so much he sets up his own record shop where he sells hard-to-find tapes, cds and vinyl records for a living. his parents, however, disapprove of his too alternative record shop as they feel that even though he loves his job, they feel there’s no future in it.

when it comes to relationships, rob blames his current misfortunes with his latest ex-girlfriend, laura, to all his failed relationships in the past. he decides the only way for him to move on with his life is to confront his past head on. so he calls all his previous girlfriends in chronological order, with the intent of forgiving them for eventually rejecting him, without thinking that he might be the one who needs to ask for forgiveness.

what i liked about rob’s character was his penchant for inserting lists in his narration: top 5 girls you like, top 5 favorite dance music, top 5 favorite music of all time, top 5 music not to play in a particular situation, top 5 things not to say to a girl in a particular situation, top 5 favorite books, top 5 favorite artists, and so on. these are not the de facto lists mentioned by rob in the book but you get the idea. what’s even more interesting is the way rob and his 2 employees/friends from the record shop discuss, debate and argue the reasons why a particular item should or should not be on a certain list. it reminded me of myself, rob (the real-life rob) and hector back when we were in college. the only difference being we were more into top10’s than top5’s.

i think personal lists and enumeration in general should be encouraged as they show that a person knows what he or she wants and is unafraid to express them. it’s sad and disheartening to see people conform to the norms of society for fear that they may be left out or be branded as odd.

another thing i liked about the book was its inadvertent putdown on what love really is to most people. how love is used to hurt a supposed loved one. how love is both triggered and untriggered by the most mundane things. how shallow love really is. so shallow that music becomes more meaningful beside it.

rating: 5 of 5 stars * * * * *
contemporarily funny and witty and most enjoyable.

1 comment:

rob said...

I've got to start reading Hornby's books as the movies based on them are all good ('About a Boy', etc.) and I can somehow relate to his characters. The people in his books are very realistic, and seem to come from real life, probably a lot of Nick Hornby's own experiences. I saw him interviewed one time on tv (I think one of the late night shows) and he looks like a fun guy to be around.

And I agree, those were great times with the three of us including Hector (and I still believe the best times together is still to come). It was because we took all those lists seriously, as if our life depended on the accuracy of them, hence the multiple back and forth debates. Throw in a T.A. or Marc Arabe to the mix and you have a great discussion. Which is kinda like how I envisioned Dangerous Reviewers to be.

Lists - One of my favorite books in grade school up to high school was the "Book of Lists" series. So naturally in college I would create the annual 'Top 10 Quotes of the Year', 'Top Songs of the Year', etc. I also enjoy creating the list-based reviews on this site, although I did tell myself I should write one "real" review for every list-based article, which I haven't followed.