A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
|A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kerry King|
|Summary: Television presenter Martin Sharp is going to do it. Come New Year's Eve, he's definitely going to end it all. Finally. But it's pretty distracting to find a queue of people behind you wanting to leap off this tower block and their own particular mortal coils. Not to mention the fact that they all seem to have nicked his idea.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: April 2006|
|Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd|
Is it wrong to find other people's anguish so alluring? It is? Right, ahem, sorry. Shall we just say then, that despite the fact that disgraced television presenter Martin Sharp has, in his words p*ssed his life away and wants to end it all at the bottom of a tower block he is an oddly interesting, if misunderstood, chap. Ask his wife. Actually, don't ask his wife; she'd be only too pleased to see him jump.
The story is written from the individual perspectives, in a narrative style, of each character - Martin, Jess, Maureen and JJ. It's all to Hornby's credit that he can believably flesh out an 18 year-old girl, a mousey single mum, a rock-god and an embittered TV has-been all within the space of 5 pages. Each of his four characters comes alive within these pages, even though they are all desperately trying not to be and what is more, you are pleasingly irritated by them all in turn. That's how well written this book is.
Strangely the foursome's keenness to top themselves ties them inextricably together and an abiding bond is formed between them, even though were it not for that single fact, friendship among them would be about as likely as Buckfastleigh Rangers winning the Champions League. And this is where the reader realises that they too are in for the long haul. Hornby has slipped his story under your skin when you weren't looking and frankly, nothing is more pleasing than to realise you are hooked.
It is unflattering and unfair to describe the literary works of Nick Hornby as bloke-lit (although I find I do just that because of the types I see reading his books on the tube) because Nick Hornby is bitingly funny, clever and comically brilliant in spades. He is not the male version of fluffy reading; his work is intelligent and real and more than worthy of your fiver. My own favourite 'Hornbies' are High Fidelity which I found achingly bittersweet and too funny (I LOVE list-makers - I married one!!!) and About A Boy. This is where I would suggest you start if you enjoy A Long Way Down. Failing that, though still in the Hornby stable, you might want to try Slam which is his first 'teen' novel and if any or all of these outings leaves you wanting something similar with a slightly alternative edge, then you will enjoy pretty much anything by Tony Parsons, but my personal selections would be My Favourite Wife and Man and Boy which will make your throat ache with its loveliness.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby at Amazon.com.
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