Book 06: Nick Hornby - Juliet, Naked
I have liked Nick Hornby for quite a while now (the incredibly dragging and early midlife crisis depression inducing High Fidelity not withstanding) and while I often hear disparaging remarks about him, I could never really see why. Sure, he’s no Ian McEwan or Salman Rushdie but doesn’t try to be and that is not the only way to write a good book. Hornby has that sharp talent for characters - especially those that don’t usually populate novels. He has a fresh and witty voice and this unflinching and interesting perspective on things.
Juliet, naked doesn’t have the most original plot in the world - in fact you needn’t look any further than your basic fan fiction - but it’s sheer brilliance in how it is told. The story follows a middle-aged couple, Duncan and Annie, who while never really wildly in love, are comfortable with other. Duncan is an avid fanboy of a has been singer-songwriter who hasn’t recorded anything since his last and legendary break-up album Juliet. Annie puts up with his obsession, and she does like the musician, Tucker Crowe, but then new developments in his music, namely the release of a new version of the album - entitled Juliet, naked - causes cracks in the relationship and finally they break up, while Annie finds herself in email contact with Tucker Crowe, himself.
Like all of Hornby’s books, Juliet, naked, has incredibly funny moments that make you chortle and smirk and actually laugh out loud even if you are reading on a full train or in a café. But, like the other books, it is therefor (i think falsely) categorised as comedy, which I don’t think it is. Hornby can be both funny and deeply depressing all at the same time. His characters offer introspection and depression and the tend to hold up a mirror to the reader because there is usually someone you can yourself in - usually in most of the characters to some degree.
Especially his description of fandom and internet communities is terrifyingly astute and hilarious - and especially if you have been part of something like this, quite embarrassing, in a good way. He also one of the few male novelists who write women incredibly well - i.e. as facetted as the men, and without trying to sound like a feminist, that is rare even in really noted authors (like Gabriel Garcia Marquez for instance, only to name one of the most glaring examples).
Its a fun and interesting read and definitely something, I’d recommend.
Other Books read by the same Author:
- A long way down
- How to be good
- High Fidelity