27 January 2007

Review - A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Well, really this will be less of a review in technical terms and more of me blubbering about how brilliant a book this is. The four main characters are quirkier and more real than most people on the street. These four characters meet each other on the top of a popular building for suicidals. Yes, they all had intentions to jump, but in meeting each other, they take the long way down, namely, the stairs. The book centers more about their experience after that night. Hornby writes nothing trite; he gives away no feel-good, shallow hope. He never betrays his psychology and philosophy, which runs deeper than blokes with tweed jackets with the patched elbows and a pipe who alternatively suck on the ends of their glasses and sip brandy. Oh, and these folks usually have some pained look on their faces, which is supposedly construed as “thoughtful,” but which might just as well be “constipated.” But back to this book. It inspires me to broaden my vocab simply so that I may have more words with which to describe the book, words such as ingenious, sharp-witted (and quick-witted along with all those other wits), sage-esque, crafty, see also discerning without any of the erudite and highbrow nonsense.
If you are a writer and would like to learn about these: writing, then you need to read the book. Okay, okay, yes, yes more specific: voice, developing backstory, conflict (I threw that one in for me), did I mention voice?, plot, communicating a philosophy of life while telling a darn good story and never saying things like, “And Kierkegaard said…”, comedy in the midst of depression, flat out telling a good story, and, um, yes, voice.
If you are a reader, then read this book.
I would like to mention, though, so that I may avoid my forty minus one cat o’ nine tails, that the book contains language that many would consider crude. You know, curse words. Quite a few of them, actually. So that’s my warning.
And, in case you didn’t realize this, I love this book. Can I read it again?
Oh, and props to Mike Snyder for telling me I need to read this author and not just see the movies (Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity and About a Boy).


Christianne said...

About a Boy is probably the most hilarious book I've ever read. I laugh out loud every time and have probably read it at least thrice. It's way, way better than the film (though that was fun too). Especially the chapter about the Dead Duck Day.

Pamela said...

Darn good review. He should pay you.

I'll be looking for Ebay/paperback

michael snyder said...

Good stuff, Heather. I'm thrilled to have another Hornby fan friend. He's an amazing writer, funny, and relevant.

And for any of you audiophiles out there, the CD version of the book is well done too. But like Heather said, if you f-bombs offend you, try something else.

Jenn said...

I could've written this. (The glowing review, I mean. Not the book.) I LOVED it. I was wondering, though, until your disclaimer at the end, whether you meant you needed to broaden your vocabulary to include the eventually-mentioned "curse words." Not that your vocabulary doesn't already include them, I suppose. I mean, I don't actually know you.


Have you read How to Be Good, by the same author? That's my favourite--though possibly for the same reason that the Tempest is your favourite Shakespeare play.

Nicole said...

You probably already know this, but Johnny Depp's production company Infinitum Nihil has optioned this book, and he might or might not star in it.

Jenn said...

Nicole, this is mindbogglingly good news. How could it get any better?

Heather said...

Jenn, I couldn't agree more. I'd been wondering how this isn't a movie yet. And to hope that my favorite actor might possibly be starring in one of my favorite books!
Oh, and in case they need advice - I had pictured that guy from Knotting Hill (the one married to the parapalegic) as Martin's boss.

Jenn said...

Ooh . . . good idea. ;) Yeah, I think you're right--we must at least be long lost cousins.