Before reading High Fidelity, I always saw Nick Hornby as one of those authors who I've been meaning to read, promised myself to read, but I never got around to picking up any of his books. That is, until now, and with one of his novels in tow, I'm glad that in the end, I made the decision to pick up one of his books.
High Fidelity isn't so much a book as it is the inner ramblings of its flawed but utterly charming protagonist, Rob Fleming. Rob has been dumped by his girlfriend, Laura, and to spite her, he attempts to both write her off and pretend that their relationship never happened. However, as Fidelity begins taking shape, we learn that Rob's being single is but the tip of an especially frigid iceberg. For starters, the record shop he manages so devotedly is not doing too well. Also, Rob is growing older, the latter of which becomes more crucial to his development later in the novel. Combine this with the bitter truth, that Laura left him for one of the other tenants at Rob's flat, and you have a vivid and pathetic portrayal of a boy who never grew up to be a man.
I say that Rob is flawed out of admiration rather than disgust. He's not always the most likable person, his actions range from heartfelt to utterly stupid, I.E sleeping with a woman who's rendition of "Baby I Love Your Way" brings him to tears. But, by creating a stupid but sweet main character, Hornby succeeds. The writing ranges from conversational and crass to an inner monologue of human suffering, a tone that overall fits the book like a glove.
As Rob trudges throughout the novel, he interacts with a variety of people. The characters Hornby writes bring more light to the novel. They include Barry, a notorious music snob who works for Rob and puts people on the spot by asking them their random Top 5's. And Marie, the girl who's music makes Rob weep and stands as the book's most functional human being.
While its writing and characters are very colorful and succeed on several fronts, it is the final third that truly elevates the novel. As Rob begins to grow and mature, coming to terms with his past and finding his way, he improves himself greatly. He can take control of his life and loved ones. He puts away stupid habits or things that he had in his life before, and both the novel and its main character succeed in the end.
All of this being said, reading High Fidelity gave me an overall vibe about Hornby as a writer and his style. Though High Fidelity is very successful and well thought out, I can imagine that reading Nick Hornby is something one should do in small doses. His books have a human touch to them, but I think that before I pick up another novel of his, I may need a break, for fear that his genuine style and voice may overstay their welcome otherwise.
In the end, I am truly glad I read High Fidelity and that I chose such an appropriate book to jump start my Cannonball Read. The book is utterly captivating and very much fun to read, its characters are well written and the prose itself works in tandem with its subject. I may need a break from Hornby for the time being, but I can assure you that I'll most definitely check out some of his other work.