Thursday, March 24, 2011

High Fidelity, 17/100

HA! A book that has been turned into a popular movie which I HAVEN'T SEEN! Thank god I don't have to go through the whole "well it was just like the film, like reading a screenplay, blah blah blah" spiel. (Don't worry though, I'm planning on seeing it. So just calm down, Cusack fans).

The only other Nick Hornby novel I'd read previous to this was Juliet, Naked way back in 2009. Although dealing with a remarkably similar subject matter (music obsession, rocky relationships), High Fidelity is the stronger novel.

In a nutshell, the novel is about a pop music-obsessed record shop owner, Rob, who has become disappointed with where his life has taken him, and his inability to maintain successful relationships. He delves into his record collection and examines his past relationships (his "Top 5 Most Painful Breakups") for answers.

One of the funniest parts of the book are all the "Top 5" and "Top 10" lists the Rob and his co-workers are obsessed with. Top 5 Songs to Play on a Monday Morning. Top 5 Songs About Death. They even come up with a "questionnaire for prospective partners" underlining their favorite music/film/TV/books to prevent "leaping into bed with someone who might, at a later date, turn out to have every Julio Iglesias record ever made."

But in the end Rob realizes that it's not what you like, but what you're like.

Still though, I think it would be impossible for me to have a relationship with someone who likes Buckcherry. That's a deal breaker right there.

If I had a Top 5 Funniest Novels list, High Fidelity would be on it, no doubt. It was beyond hilarious. Check it out if you want a good laugh, a fair amount of music geekery, and a just a dash of introspection.

Here are some snippets:

People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos, we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands--literally thousands--of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.

You see those pictures of people in Pompeii and you think, how weird: one quick game of dice after your tea and you're frozen, and that's how people remember you for the next thousand years. ... I'm stuck in this pose, this shop-managing pose, forever, because of a few short weeks in 1979 when I went a bit potty for a while. I feel as though I made a face and the wind changed, and now I have to go through life grimacing in this horrible way.

You can see this everywhere you go: young, middle-class people whose lives are beginning to disappoint them making too much noise in restaurants and clubs and wine bars. "Look at me! I'm not as boring as you think I am! I know how to have fun!" Tragic. I'm glad I learned to stay home and sulk.

It's only just beginning to occur to me that it's important to have something going on somewhere, at work or at home, otherwise you're just clinging on. If I lived in Bosnia, then not having a girlfriend wouldn't seem like the most important thing in the world, but here in Crouch End it does. You need as much ballast as possible to stop you from floating away; you need people around you, things going on, otherwise life is like some film where the money ran out, and there are no sets, or locations, or supporting actors, and it's just one bloke on his own staring into the camera with nothing to do and nobody to speak to, and who'd believe in this character then? I've got to get more stuff, more clutter, more detail here, because at the moment I'm in danger of falling off the edge.

...I never really enjoyed the naked part of sex, just the dinner, coffee and get-away-that's-my-favorite-Hitchcock-film-too part of sex.

It seems to me that if you place music (and books, probably, and films and plays, and anything else that makes you feel) at the center of your being, then you can't afford to sort out your love life, stop to think of it as the finished product. You've got to pick at it, keep it alive and in turmoil, you've got to pick at it and unravel it until it all comes apart and you're compelled to start all over again. Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content, we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-overheels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship.

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