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High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
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High Fidelity (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Nick Hornby

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,118158208 (3.93)207
Member:Yells
Title:High Fidelity
Authors:Nick Hornby
Info:Riverhead Trade (1996), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Read in 2013, Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:READ 2013

Work details

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)

  1. 40
    About a Boy by Nick Hornby (Maurizio70)
  2. 10
    Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both funny and enjoyable books about a young guy rethinking his life.
  3. 10
    The best a man can get by John O'Farrell (alzo)
  4. 10
    Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn (lampbane)
    lampbane: Another story where music and love are interconnected.
  5. 00
    Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie (sturlington)
  6. 00
    Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both are introspective and character-based novels about a witty and music-obsessed young man suffering from relationship problems. Readers who enjoy savvy, music-literate fiction will enjoy the hip, colloquial prose and rich detail concerning popular music.… (more)
  7. 00
    Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me by Martin Millar (AsYouKnow_Bob)
  8. 00
    The Song is You by Arthur Phillips (elenchus)
    elenchus: Similar taste in music by the protagonists, but a very different novel. Both very good.
  9. 00
    Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting by Brett Milano (Sr_Moreno)
  10. 01
    YOU comma Idiot by Doug Harris (ShelfMonkey)
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» See also 207 mentions

English (146)  Spanish (4)  Norwegian (2)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
A nice, easy read but, I have to say, I think the only reason I liked High Fidelity as much as I did was because I am a fan of the film adaptation starring John Cusack. This meant I could self-edit Nick Hornby's novel in line with what I had already experienced many times with my old, well-worn DVD. I won't go on and on about how such-and-such a thing is better in the film than such-and-such in the book – only to say that the Rob protagonist in the film is much more likeable, and this is perhaps the main advantage the film has over the book.

That said, the book does a good job of showing that a man's emotions can't be categorised or divided into neat little boxes; often, they are complex, contradictory, or just plain confusing. The Rob character is not a clichéd commitment-phobe, nor a sleazeball, nor a neurotic nerd. He possesses characteristics of all of these stereotypes, but merges them into his own idiosyncratic personality. This is why I feel it is wrong to label this book as an insight into the male psyche – I've heard it described as the male Bridget Jones's Diary – for there is no catch-all male psyche archetype that can be applied to every guy. Despite what pop culture would sometimes have you believe, we're not that straightforward. For my part, there were some things Hornby writes and which Rob does which had me nodding my head in agreement and recognition, and others which completely alienated me. Would someone reading this have greater insight into learning more about me as a man? Some choice excerpts, perhaps, but as a whole it certainly isn't gospel for how men think and act.

As for the novel itself it is, as I said, easy and quick to read and, well… Light. Engaging. Charming. Those kind of words. Would I ever want to read it again? Probably not. The film? Most definitely. And therein lies the rub. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
I know a guy who fancies himself as John Cusack's character in Better Off Dead, Lane. If we were still talking, I'd tell him that he's not - that he's exactly like John Cusack's character, Rob, in High Fidelity. But we're not talking... because he's exactly like Rob. And Rob is probably the most honest look at the modern 30-something guy I've ever read.

That one word captures it all: guy. In Say Anything (and in my last reference to John Cusack), John Cusack's character, Lloyd, is told by his friend Corey, "Don't be a guy. Be a man." That is exactly the struggle for Rob. He knows it, too. There are several moments where he acknowledges his extended adolescence, and how it is the root of all his discomfort now. For a 35 year-old does not fit into a 19 year-old's skin, or psyche, or societal roles. A 35 year-old can't look around at the people achieving what he wants, and still think, it'll come my way. A 35 year-old has to admit he isn't working for it. Yep, there's some timing and luck involved in life, sure. But Rob is not prepared for luck to turn his way; if it did, he either wouldn't recognize it or couldn't grasp it, because he's still acting and thinking like a 19 year-old guy.

It's sad and disappointing not only for him, but for those who love him, like Laura. She sees the potential in him, along with the positives that are already in place. She sticks with him through some excruciating times, because she wants the adult relationship. Perhaps she won't get it with Rob; but she's grown enough to know she won't ever get it if she doesn't act like an adult in her relationships.

The book ends with the reader thinking Rob just might be on the verge of pulling it all together. But there's still something depressing and disappointing about that. The reader gets to see all of Rob's internal dialogue, which is what makes this book so engaging. There is no detachment, no mystique. We see every selfish contradictory stand he takes; we feel every wound he suffers, both self-inflicted and unsolicited; we watch him acknowledge his feelings and try to grow past the immaturity of them. So when he does finally show some growth, it's frustrating that it isn't more. We see how Laura's reunion with him out of laziness doesn't feel good to him. So when he proposes out of similar world-weary sentiments, it's hard to cheer him on, or to feel like Laura's faith is about to rewarded with the man she deserves and can see inside him.

Still, there's no denying the truth of this character, or the universality of his experiences. While it can be awfully alarming and depressing to hear how and why Rob keeps screwing things up, I'm left wishing we were friends so I could argue some of these things out with him, shake him up a bit and help him see things just a little bit differently. Just a little - that's all it would take.

And then I remember: I've met Rob in my real life (more than once, I'm certain) and had these passionate, heart-felt, frustrating conversations already.

And then I'm amazed at what a great book Nick Hornby has written here. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
I did not expect to like this book. I've started the movie several times and not finished it because I just couldn't stand the protagonist (And I usually love John Cusack!). So I started this with very low expectations half thinking i'd toss it if I hated it. But in spite of the fact I thought the protagonist was a miserable arse who only had himself to blame for the state of his life I really enjoyed it. Hornby's writing managed to make a horrible person someone I wanted to spend time with... Although as a nearly 35 year old single person the constant stream of thought of being alone the rest of his life and settling for the best he could do was a bit depressing. ( )
1 vote SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
This has a few very funny lines, and the rest is merely enjoyable. Can you ask for more? You can, but you'll sound greedy. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
It was dull. For me the best way to describe this book is to call it "guy lit". I couldn't feel sympathy for the main character and it just felt like I was reading about my past relationship... ( )
  Glaucialm | Feb 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
Happily, Hornby does not rely on pop-cultural allusion to limn his characters' inner lives, but uses it instead to create a rich, wry backdrop for them... Hornby is as fine an analyst as he is a funny man, and his book is a true original.
added by Shortride | editTime, Gina Bellafante (Oct 9, 1995)
 
Mr. Hornby captures the loneliness and childishness of adult life with such precision and wit that you'll find yourself nodding and smiling.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, Mark Jolly (Sep 3, 1995)
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Virginia
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My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:
1) Alison Ashworth
2) Penny Hardwick
3) Jackie Allen
4) Charlie Nicholson
5) Sarah Kendrew.
Quotations
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 misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most.
"Wenn man sich überlegt, was beim Mann alles schiefgehen kann! Da gibt es das tut-sich-gar-nichts-Problem, das Tut-sich-zu-viel-zu-schnell-Problem, das Kläglicher-Hänger-nach-vielversprechendem-Start-Problem, das Größe-spielt-keine-Rolle-außer-bei-mir-Problem, das Es-ihr-nicht-besorgen-Problem ... und worum haben sich Frauen zu sorgen? Das bißchen Zellulitis? Willkommen im club. Ein kleines Wie-war-ich-wohl? Dito.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Recently dumped by his wealthy girlfriend, record store owner Rob Fleming finds himself in financial trouble and sets out on a pilgrimage to ask his former girlfriends where their relationships went wrong and to learn where his life went off track.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0575400188, Paperback)

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-thirtysomething 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The romantic trials of the owner of a London record shop, after his girlfriend leaves him for another man.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Editions: 0140293469, 0141037350

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