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Juliet, Naked: a novel Hardcover – September 29, 2009
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that it doesn't disappoint. It's really, really good, and it may even
replace High Fidelity as my favorite.
The main characters are Annie and Duncan, a middle-aged couple, and Tucker
Crowe, an aging musician in retirement. Annie and Duncan have a
relationship-ending fight about the quality of Tucker Crowe's new album,
and Annie begins a correspondence with Tucker Crowe himself.
Juliet, Naked is about Regret. Big, mid-life crisis level Regret -- grief
and anger at the too-quick passage of time, of wasted opportunities. It's
about the realization that one has not Done Enough, or Done the Right
This may sound unappetizing. But one of the rare and great features of
Nick Hornby's writing is how he takes situations that would normally be
dreary, such as a serious break-up (High Fidelity) or teenage pregnancy
(Slam), and makes these situations hilariously funny. His characters are
self-aware about themselves in some ways, but not at all in other ways.
These gaps in self-knowledge, and Hornby's gentle handling of them, are
exquisite in their subtlety and insight.
This book reminded me: (1) Do the work you love, and (2) Strive to spend
time with the people who (a) love you and (b) who you love in return.
Which of us doesn't need this reminder, always?
But I really enjoyed the first half of the novel. In particular I found Duncan (and Duncan seen through the eyes of Annie, his long suffering girlfriend) to be quite hilarious. Duncan is a fan of a relatively obscure singer/songwriter who disappeared abruptly in the mid-eighties shortly after the release of his most critically acclaimed album, Juliet. A mystic builds around the singer, Tucker Crowe, who has become a recluse in the spirit of JD Salinger. Duncan is the eminent Crowologist, an obsessive fan who maintains a web site devoted to Tucker lore, alleged sightings of the singer, and interpretations of his song lyrics. We meet Annie and Duncan while they are on vacation in the US, making pilgrimage to the bar bathroom where Tucker decided to walk away from his career.
But the novel started to lose me a little when Tucker Crowe enters the fray. After the demo tapes of Juliet are released, as a CD called Juliet Naked, Duncan writes a gushing review and posts it on his website, declaring it a masterwork. Annie posts a contrary review and soon after, she starts receiving (and then exchanging) emails from the reclusive singer.Read more ›
Hornby's newest novel, Juliet, Naked, is a wonderful, sweet book. The story focuses on three characters approaching or exiting middle aged, and how they deal with the regret of unfulfilled lives.
Duncan is a teacher who only comes to life when talking, listening to or writing about reclusive singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe. Annie is in a dead-end long-term relationship with Duncan and in a dead-end job as a seaside museum curator. And then there's Tucker Crowe, who has not recorded in over two decades and has been a disinterested observer of his own withdrawal from both his creative life.
I'll leave for you to discover how a small, uncharacteristically assertive action of Annie's - a dissenting post on Duncan's all-things-Tucker-Crowe website - sets into motion a series of events that forces all of these characters out of their respective ruts.
What's wonderful about Hornby's writing is that he understands and is compassionate towards all of his characters. You can think that Duncan is a sad, small man whose obsessive expertise regarding Crowe's small catalogue is a poor excuse for an actual life, but Hornby lets you understand how he got that way, and respects Duncan's intelligence and passion, however misapplied.Read more ›
Juliet, Naked is the story of three people. At the very center is Annie. Annie has been in a 15-year-relationship with Duncan. Duncan's not a bad guy, but perhaps the most notable thing about him is his obsessive fandom for a long-retired, minor musician named Tucker Crowe. Tucker is the third character in this triangle. We get one picture of Tucker's life and art through Duncan's smitten (and ignorant) eyes, but we are also privy to the reality, which is quite a bit different.
That is the set-up. Once we've met all the players, there is a catalyst that results in two major plot developments. The catalyst is the release of Tucker Crowe's album Juliet, Naked, a new, stripped-down version of his classic album, Juliet. It's the first anyone's heard from Crowe in 20 years, and the reception is polarizing. So much so, that it's the straw that breaks the back of Annie and Duncan's relationship. The other major, if improbably, development is that Annie and Tucker strike up a friendship. The novel is a warm, funny, affectionate look at three flawed individuals. Despite their flaws, it's hard not to fall in love with them. I can think of any number of less pleasant things to do than while away a few hours in their company.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is HIGHLY OVERRATED! It doesn't deserve 1 star! I love reading books written by British authors so I though thought I would enjoy Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. Boy! Read morePublished 24 days ago by Kindle Customer
Usually love Nick Hornby, but not this time. It feels short for such a boring book.Published 2 months ago by Siddha108
This was a funny yet thought invoking book about fame, myths of fame, and fandom. I enjoyed the different points of view presented and how real these characters seemed.Published 3 months ago by Jim
Sometimes I feel I'm a little too mean towards Hornby, but that's probably because in each of his increasingly terrible novels you see signs of the brilliance that probably... Read morePublished 4 months ago by brainiac
A book that is well written, entertaining and at a few times thoughtful, but mostly worth reading for its humor, wit, tongue and cheek nature and characters.Published 4 months ago by Corey
Nick Hornby remains my favorite author and never fails in making me laugh smile and feel empathy for his characters. A funny relatable read for all of us.Published 5 months ago by Matthew Koerner
“Juliet, Naked” is a satire of the cult like groups that form on the internet around obscure topics, and it is the story of a mid-life crisis. Read morePublished 6 months ago by algo41