Ron’s #37: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

After watching the movie version of High Fidelity this weekend for the umpteenth time, I decided to reread the book. I “read” the book via audio book ten years ago or so, and I loved it as much then as I did today. High Fidelity is an excellent novel about music, relationships, disconnection, and hope. The New Yorker raves that “It is rare that a book so hilarious is also so sharp about sex and manliness, memory and music.”

Rob Fleming is a 35-year-old music aficionado/snob. He owns Championship Vinyl, and works with Barry and Dick, paler versions of Rob with an equally prodigious knowledge of decades worth of pop music. The story begins with Rob’s girlfriend, Laura, moving out and leaving him to his records and snarky criticism. Rob drifts and floats his way through the next few weeks as he tries to find connections to something or someone, while facing his own emptiness that pop tunes cannot fill.

Rob, Barry, and Dick are consummate list-makers, creating the Top Five Songs for a Monday Morning, Top Five Songs about Death, and Top Five Artists that Must Be Killed When the Music Revolution Happens (U2 is on that list). They have better taste in music than most anyone else, and they are not shy about that fact. Rob says that he came to the conclusion that it is more important what you like than it is what you are like.

I’m not a music collector, but there is something to relate to in my book collecting that makes me really connect to this story. I feel that I can relate to the passion Rob show towards what seems to be meaningless and trivial stuff (band lineups, cover versions, imported singles). I like their everyday obsessiveness about records and music, and after reading it, I want to download some of the songs mentioned. (Sidenote: If I had time, I would create an iMix on iTunes of all the songs mentioned in this book.]

This is the fourth or fifth book of Nick Hornby’s that I’ve read, and I love his style and swag in dialogue. His prose would be a perfect example to show students the important of voice in writing, if it weren’t for all the swearing.

The movie version of this book is excellent as well. John Cusack is one of my favorites, and he captures Rob perfectly. Much of it, I like better than the book, mainly because they moved the location from London to Chicago. Stories just sound better in the U. S. of A. I didn’t understand many of the references, places, or phrases in the book, even with digesting the BBC version of The Office and Extras.

Coincidence: One of the main songs of the book is Solomon Burke’s “Got to Get You Off My Mind,” and Burke just died yesterday. I hope that it had nothing to do with my reading this book, although this wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.

About Ron
I teach English and government in Okinawa, Japan. I love reading theology and fiction, and my52books.com helps keep me accountable. Reading with three kids under 5 is a bit of a challenge, but I keep trying to find ways to read more. My favorites writers are C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’ Connor, and Raymond Carver.

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