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High Fidelity: A Novel Paperback – October 4, 2005

622 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

British journalist Hornby has fashioned a disarming, rueful and sometimes quite funny first novel that is not quite as hip as it wishes to be. The book dramatizes the romantic struggle of Rob Fleming, owner of a vintage record store in London. After his girlfriend, Laura, leaves him for another man, he realizes that he pines not for sexual ecstasy (epitomized by a "bonkus mirabilis" in his past) but for the monogamy this cynic has come to think of as a crime. He takes comfort in the company of the clerks at the store, whose bantering compilations of top-five lists (e.g., top five Elvis Costello songs; top-five films) typify the novel's ingratiating saturation in pop culture. Sometimes this can pall: readers may find that Rob's ruminations about listening to the Smiths and the Lemonheads?pop music helps him fall in love, he tells us?are more interesting than his list of five favorite episodes of Cheers. Rob takes comfort as well in the company of a touring singer, Marie La Salle, who is unpretentious and "pretty in that nearly cross-eyed American way"?but life becomes more complicated when he encounters Laura again. Hornby has earned his own place on the London bestseller lists, and this on-the-edge tale of musical addiction just may climb the charts here. First serial to Esquire.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594481784
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594481789
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (622 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 120 people found the following review helpful By J. Mullin on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
1. It is very original; 2. Biting wit and numerous laugh out loud moments; 3. Several pop music and movie references; 4. Startlingly accurate depictions of male post-breakup pathos; 5. Numerous London colloquialisms let us know how they live and speak in England.
I absolutely loved this novel. It was witty, exploring with a keen eye relationships and the reasons why men and women get together, and sometimes drift apart. Narrator Rob is a self-indulgent whiner who tries to make himself feel better after getting dumped by making lists to himself of "top 5 breakups", as well as lists of "top 5 breakup songs". He does something many of us 30-something men often think of doing, namely contact old flames out of an odd, morbid curiosity as to their whereabouts and marital status.
While Rob and his incessant ruminations on his past and present love life can sometimes get old, Hornby deftly changes gears whenever a change is needed and involves numerous excellent secondary characters, including record store employees and comrades-in-arms Dick and Barry (played amazingly well by Jack Black in the recent movie) as well as a folkie American female musician living in London. The scenes in Rob's second hand record store are priceless, as well as some memorable episodes in North London's pubs where Rob and the boys hoist a pint or two while they argue meaningless musical debates.
It is difficult to categorize the novel, but I can simply say that as a male of approximately the same age as the protagonist, it appeared Hornby (and Rob) were talking my language (albeit with a British flair), and I therefore breezed through this book quicker than most. You need not be male and over 30 to enjoy it, but reading it will reveal some of our secrets and obsessions. Pick it up, you won't be disappointed.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jean Baldridge Yates VINE VOICE on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Did you have a favorite blanket when you were little? Get ready to meet your new one, now that you're older. This book gave me more pleasure last year when I read it than that much beloved piece of flannel ever did, and I dragged Nick Hornby's pseudomemoir around with me long after I finished reading it, in the sense that I tried to FORCE everyone else I knew, even slightly, to read it. Why? Like Rob, the protagonist, I am not exactly sure about "stuff". However, at least he is honest, and, incredibly funny about the mess he is making about his life. In other words, he is so very, totally, hopelessly HUMAN.
I didn't particularly care about the fact that the author is male and I, the reader, am female. I think this is not the point of this book. Rather, this book is about the struggles we all have, doing our best to face up to our fears, and the total screw ups we all make just living our lives when we finally take some sort of a stand about ANYTHING and make a choice. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Ha, ha, ha.
Just read the first page and I guarantee you'll be hooked. By the time you are finished, you will be touched and you will want to touch the other people you know by sharing this terrific, funny, poignant, contempory bestseller with them.
Can't wait to see the movie. If John Cusack doesn't do right by this, I'll be really surprised. Even though he is not British, like the author, Nick Hornby, he should be perfect. He's got the vulnerable yet intelligent maleness that makes you incapable of not loving High Fidelity's funny, goofy, always trying (well, kind of) Rob down to a T. Now go rearrange your record collection.
best wishes, Jean
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book twice -- once when I was single (loved it), and again while I was seven months pregnant, stranded with sciattica in my hotel room in Venice while my husband went sight-seeing. The hotel had a copy of HIGH FIDELITY in its small "lenders" library and I snatched it with huge relief. It was even better the second time. While bolts of pain shot down my left leg and my unborn son trounced merrily on my spine, I followed Hornby's tale of love, lust and ambiguity to its brilliant conclusion. Laughing out loud is difficult when you are third-trimester incontinent, but I managed. This is one of my favorite books -- wickedly funny, dead brutal, and absolutely uproarious in its twists. It is one of those rare books that can be equally enjoyed by both sexes -- Hornby is a riot, a writer's writer. I especially liked his use of music -- an added thread of interest to an already engrossing narrative. His characters are oddly real, compelling, a joy -- the dialogue crackles with life. I gasped more than once at his exhuberant style, his sure hand with the most delicate of subjects. If you read only one book this summer, make it HIGH FIDELITY. I would be dumbstruck if ABOUT A BOY were as startling, but I plan to give it a try. This man has it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Erica on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nick's one of the best, most sneaky writers I know. Well, I don't actually know him, but I know a friend who...okay, I don't actually know anyone who knows him, but he signed my presentation copy of High Fidelity. So, okay, it's actually the library's copy, but he's definitely on my top-ten, all-time best writers list of the nineties...

Nick Hornby writes romances. Sure, they're guy romances, which means there's a lot of duck and cover, much waffling, and many reorganizations of CD collections. But the bed-swapping is desultry and the typical masculine evasions are half-hearted, because Hornby's men are all in their mid-thirties and are beginning to experience the nagging heebie-jeebies, a sort of group angst. What if, they think, to paraphrase Gregory Corso, what if I'm sixty years old and all alone, with pee-stains on my underwear? What if I'm merely ordinary? What if I'm not...special? What if I'm going to die?

Nick Hornby's men have virtually no moorings. They simply await the opinion of others. They're like helium balloons, their strings digging annoyingly into the palms of the women and children who stubbornly hold onto them. Inevitably, these people want to let them go. And when they do, Hornby's antiheroes are terrified--of dissipation, of annihilation, of being alone. Without the defining weight of family, these men suspect they'd be merely ciphers. They'd be right, but they'd also be wrong, and this is what makes Hornby's books so quietly beautiful.

Rob Flemming doesn't have a life, he has a list. He's the spectator on the sidelines, keeping his options open, scorecard in hand, calculating up averages.
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