Friday, 6 September 2013

Lad Lit Book Reviews: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Lad Lit Book Reviews: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
I have not read nearly as many Nick Hornby books as I should, and why I waited so long to read High Fidelity is beyond me! This truly is lad lit at its finest and in the main character Rob Fleming I think I have a kindred spirit. I hope I’m not doing him an injustice by saying this, but he kind of reminds me a bit of Karl Pilkington in that throughout his narration he constantly says the things that everyone secretly thinks but rarely say out loud, or that he simply tells it like it is like a conversation you would have with a mate down the pub. But more on that later.

So what’s it all about? The whole story is told through Rob’s eyes; he’s in his 30s and life is not exactly moving at a 100 miles per hour. The record store that he owns isn’t a financial gold mine and he spends much of his time discussing his favourite ‘top five’ music lists with his employees Dick and Barry (who certainly deserve a special mention for the part they play in making the dynamic of this little trio so funny at times).

Rob has not had the best luck with women either and after the first chapter in which he details the five great ‘break-ups’ of his life, it doesn’t really come as a surprise when his current girlfriend Laura decides to give him the elbow for Ray (real name Ian) who lives upstairs. There are some brilliantly funny moments when Rob starts to have flashbacks at the times Laura and him would lay in bed listening to the passionate moans of pleasure coming from Ray’s bedroom, and of course like a lot of blokes in his situation, instead of facing the main problem of his break-up head-on, paranoia engulfs his own sexual ability, as Rob explains:

“I really don’t know why it matters so much. Ian could be better at talking than me, or cooking, or working, or housework, or saving money, or earning money, or spending money, or understanding books or films; he could be nicer than me, better-looking, more intelligent, cleaner, more generous-spirited, more helpful, a better human being in any way you care to mention... and I wouldn’t mind. Really. I accept and understand that you can’t be good at everything and I am tragically unskilled in some very important areas. But sex is different; knowing a successor is better in bed is impossible to take, and I don’t know why.”

While Laura is ambitious and determined, Rob is somewhat happy for things to carry on like they always have. At first he embraces the break-up; feeling that he was the one being held back somehow, but pretty soon reality strikes and Rob starts to wonder if he’ll ever find a woman who will be able to resist dropping him like a lead balloon. Of course, Rob comes up with the perfect plan to put a stop to this rut, but instead taking a hard look at the man in the mirror, he decides the best way to determine what his shortcomings are is to seek out his top five break-ups to ask their opinion.

Along the way Rob realises that he wants to win Laura back; he has to win Laura back but change doesn’t come easy and there are lots of laughs along the way at Rob’s expense.

And now on to those Karl Pilkington say-what-you-see moments. Here are a couple of my favourite Rob Fleming lines:

“Sometimes I got so bored of trying to touch her breasts that I would try to touch her between her legs, a gesture that had sort of self-parodying wit about it: it was like trying to borrow a fiver, getting turned down, and asking to borrow fifty quid instead.”

“I hate calling him T-Bone. It sets my teeth on edge, like when you have to ask for a Big Heap Buffalo Billburger, when all you want is a quarter pounder, or a Just Like Mom Used To Make, when all you want is a piece of apple pie.”

There are some other truly great lines in this book, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who is going to give this book a read. I personally really enjoyed it and the subject matter of love and break-ups is told from a perspective that I think both men and women will enjoy and appreciate.

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