High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Summary from Goodreads:

It has been said often enough that baby boomers are a television generation, but the very funny novel High Fidelity reminds that in a way they are the record-album generation as well. This funny novel is obsessed with music; Hornby's narrator is an early-thirty-something English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way-on vinyl-and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood. The book is in one sense a love story, both sweet and interesting; most entertaining, though, are the hilarious arguments over arcane matters of pop music.


I think the first thing that calls attention in High Fidelity is Rob Fleming, and how he seems to fit the category of what they call an unlikable protagonist, a character who has been purposely made to have unpleasant traits and/ or a skewed moral compass, and to generally behave in a way that people find hard to swallow. And I think this can be tricky. Not because having an unlikable lead equals a horrible book altogether, but because there are certain things you have to hit for this to work. A protagonist can be mean and annoying and rude, but they have to be mean and annoying and rude with a cause. The reader needs to understand where their "unlikableness" comes from and believe it. And Nick Hornby with Rob Fleming, manages to do just that. 


So here is Rob, fresh from being dumped by Laura who has just about had it with his inability to enter adulthood. In his grief and anger he goes off and hunt down the exes that made it on his list of top five memorable split-ups. This sounds like a terrible, obnoxious thing to do. I was not quite convinced of the point of it all, save for perhaps as source of humor, but hollow in the significance. But like I said, Nick Hornby created a character that isn't defined merely by being an insufferable arsehole, there is a method to his madness. While I may not always approve of his methods, what's important is that they're there. As he once explained the logic of what he calls his percentage game. It's fears. Fears which I understood and found to be earnest and substantial. And I eventually got the point of his obsessions and why he clings to boyhood at the late age of thirty. And most importantly I found myself rooting for him. This is where Nick Hornby hits nail on the head when it comes to this particular unlikable character of his.


The writing is of the confessional type. Rob's voice is spontaneous and blunt and a bit acerbic, and yeah, a bit whiny. But there's humor and wit. He has some hilarious and droll observations about relationships, and life in London, and of course music and other people's musical tastes. It's a quick read with a story arc that's easy to follow.  


Overall, I found the whole story to be quite satisfying. And the ending. The ending was pretty good. There was no sudden transformation or redemption, which I fear would just make the whole thing collapse on itself. Instead it stayed true to who Rob Fleming is. A small, subtle change that could lead him somewhere. A believable ending. And Rob he turned out not being so bad, after all. He's a nice chap. An entertaining, nice chap. :)

Comments

  1. Listening to the audiobook, I felt Rob more. Yes, he's an arsehole but I like his honesty. It's like I understand guys like him better, those whiny guys who are unlikable but aren't nasty either, as you have said before.

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    1. Haha! Yeah, Nick Hornby knows the insides of Rob's brain so he was able to convey his thoughts in such an honest manner. I was not convinced of the audiobook at first. Something about the narrator's voice. But then I ended up enjoying it, along side the ebook. :)

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  2. No, Rob's not nice. He's stubborn and hard-headed. I don't like him at all. I don't want to marry him, have his kids, bear his surname. Not until he mans up and be responsible, maybe when he's 60? But who wants to marry him when he's 60? Haha! But, you're right. Hornby was able to create a great book with a pathetic MC, the reason why I gave High Fidelity a few stars (3) hehe. :)

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    1. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Grabe tawa ko sa comment mo Lynai! But I see where you're coming from. Rob is not for everybody. LOL. Si John Cusack nalang pakasalan natin, Lynai! LOL!

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    2. Yesyesyes to John Cusack. I'm willing to share with you naman hahaha!

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  3. You should have been there during the F2F for this book, Tin! Hahaha.

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    1. I wish I could have been there too! Kinukulit ko nga si Meliza sa chat that day, especially about our band. Haha! :) (Also, it was so nice to meet you Monique! I will always remember your surprised reaction! :D)

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  4. I second Monique's comment ^. We could have expounded on that redemption thing! :)

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    1. It would have been great to hear what you guys thought about Rob and the book! Parang the ratings sa GR weren't that great. Haha. (Mommy L, it was so loverly to have meet you in person! Haha!)

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    2. Same here! But Aaron had to have his way of busting 'good welcomes', right? :)
      Next time, stay longer!

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