Friday, December 25, 2009

High Fidelity

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of High Fidelity (Penguin/Riverhead 1995).

There's a blurb on the back of this book, Nick Hornby's debut novel, warning men to keep it away from women. Sound advice. There are some things about fellows that ladies are better off not knowing.

Maybe the most surprising thing about reading the book was learning how very faithful the film adaptation was. I remember that a mailing list that I used to be on was absolutely livid that it was relocated from London to Chicago, but I wasn't distracted by the change of venue at all. It's a story about archetypes as much as characters, and some folk are the same the world over, especially if they work at or spend lots of time in record stores like Championship Vinyl.

If you are not familiar with it, it's the story of a breakup and its aftereffects. Rob, like all men, can, if he chooses, catalog everything in neat and easily-followed lists. He does not forget the incidents in his past which he has elected to classify as being massively important. If he didn't do that, he'll forget completely in time, which is how some guys can easily remember the names of everybody who took the stage at the Concert for Bangla Desh but have trouble remembering our significant other's extended family. His lover Laura - their names coming from the leads in The Dick Van Dyke Show can't be a coincidence - has become fed up with his complacence and left him.

Rob broods, he justifies, he totally lacks insight into how his actions are perceived, and he's a whole lot like everybody I've ever met or been myself who's just been dumped. Maybe this book is less a secret strategy guide for women dealing with guys as it is a reminder to men that it's okay; we're all like that sometimes. Happily recommended.

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