High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

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High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Buy High Fidelity by Nick Hornby at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Tamsin Jones
Reviewed by Tamsin Jones
Summary: An entertaining, light-weight read which is probably better borrowed than bought as we think you're unlikely to return to it.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: May 2005
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0140293463

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Rob Fleming has nothing going for him. His record shop is a joke, his girlfriend Laura has left him for the man in the flat upstairs and his only friends are his employees, loud, obnoxious Barry and sweet, shy Dick. They spend most of their spare time touring the pubs in North London watching bands that no one but them, and maybe five others, have ever heard of. Rob is ruled by lists, his top 5 can be anything from favourite Beatles songs to girls that broke his heart. And his life doesn't look like it'll be improving any time soon.

In an effort to make himself feel better he decides to track down his previous girlfriends. And embark on a mission to harass Laura's new man. And sleep with an American country and western singer-songwriter. And then try to get Laura back. And attempt to stop Barry bullying Dick. And argue constantly with his employees about the most obscure aspects of pop music. Some work, some don't, one goes disastrously wrong.

In essence Rob is a typical middle aged man. He's terrified of commitment and rejection, obsessed with music and loosely aimless. His likeability is tempered by his incessant whining, which does begin to grate around page 20. He marks any major change in his life, mostly break-ups, by rearranging his record collection in some new inventive way. A-Z just isn't good enough. Rob can be summed up by the quote did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?.

Eventually the status quo is reinstated. Ho hum. So far, so done to death. Guy loses girl, guy meets new girl, guy tries to win old girl back.

The perhaps deceptively laid-back, often hilarious way in which Hornby writes is the novel's saving grace. However, High Fidelity isn't as cool as it tries to be. It's the literary equivalent of celery. I was left with nothing more than a vague feeling of disappointment. I don't believe that this is a book exclusively for men; women could learn a lot from it about the way the male mind (?) works.

The prologue, where Rob reminisces about past girlfriends, is easily the best part of the book. It encapsulates the pain and the thrill and the aching bitterness of failed relationships. Rob places so much importance on these five girls and the effect all those break-ups had on his life that when he tracks them down and finds them a little bit boring, the relief almost pours from the pages.

The characters work wonderfully together. Singer Marie's easygoing cheerfulness is a welcome counter to Laura's neuroses. Laura's friend Liz is the down to earth, much-needed voice of reason. Barry and Dick appear to be caricatures of Rob.

This book is an interesting contradiction. The story is mundane and quite boring at times. But the writing and the way the characters are brought to life are compelling. An easy way of killing a couple of hours, which will probably leave you unfulfilled but highly entertained.

You might appreciate Invisibles by Ed Siegle.

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Buy High Fidelity by Nick Hornby at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy High Fidelity by Nick Hornby at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy High Fidelity by Nick Hornby at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy High Fidelity by Nick Hornby at Amazon.com.


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