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A Long Way Down Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

3.6 out of 5 stars 404 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

More than just a reading of Hornby's fourth novel, this audiobook is nearly an audio play with three excellent actors playing four characters. A famous pervert, an old maid, a crazy chick and a has-been rocker walk into a bar... well, they eventually do walk into a pub or two, but this disparate group of strangers first meet on a tower rooftop. Each of the quartet has independently decided to jump on New Year's Eve. Now, bonded by circumstance, they can't get rid of each other. Vance does a superb job rendering the glib tones of Martin, the TV anchor fallen from grace (he did jail time for having sex with a 15-year-old). His pompous but self-loathing delivery is dead on. Brick, with more than 150 audiobooks under his belt, perfectly nails the earnest voice and cockiness of J.J., the washed-up American rocker. And Kate Reading is outstanding playing both female characters. As Maureen, the older woman with no social life, she exudes quiet, naive dignity, but she really shines as Jess, the young wacko whose rudeness and rebellion are conveyed with a brash comical snap.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Four different people find themselves on the same roof on New Year's Eve, but they have one thing in common–they're all there to jump to their deaths. A scandal-plagued talk-show host, a single mom of a disabled young man, a troubled teen, and an aging American musician soon unite in a common cause, to find out why Jess (the teen) can't get her ex-boyfriend to return her calls. Down the stairs they go, and thoughts of suicide gradually subside. It all sounds so high concept, but each strand of the plot draws readers into Hornby's web. The novel is so simply written that its depths don't come to full view until well into the reading. Each character takes a turn telling the story in a distinctive voice. Tough questions are asked–why do you want to kill yourself, and why didn't you do it? Are adults any smarter than adolescents? What defines friends and family? Characters are alternately sympathetic and utterly despicable, talk-show-host Martin, particularly. The narrators are occasionally unreliable, with the truth coming from the observers instead. Obviously, a book about suicide is a dark read, but this one is darkly humorous–as Hornby usually is. Teens will identify with or loathe Jess and musician J. J., but they will also find themselves in the shoes of Maureen and Martin. This somewhat philosophical work will appeal to Hornby's fans but has plenty to attract new audiences as well.–Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (May 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014305760X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143057604
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (404 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,078,065 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Hornby's inventive approach to this seemingly dark topic, suicide. I expected a somber read, but found myself laughing out loud several times. He doesn't take the questions of Life and Death too lightly, nor does he take them too seriously. He finds the perfect mix of melancholia, humor, depression, and excitement.

Hornby writes the book in first person, but the point of view is passed around between the four main characters. My main concern when I discovered this format was that I was going to be re-living events through the four characters eyes, constantly back-tracking in time to get all points of view. Fortunately, Hornby avoids this pitfall by never having the story fold back on itself. This preserves the forward motion of the story. The reader is left with the impression that four very different people have written their personal memoirs and an editor deftly pieced them together to create a moving story. We've all read books where a young girl is speaking and you just can't get it out of your head that a middle-aged man is writing how he imagines a young girl would speak. Hornby doesn't have that problem. He writes from the point of view of different ages, sexes, and nationalities. You don't feel the heavy hand of the author weighing down their words. So in the end, Hornby's fiction feels like non-fiction.

While Hornby creates and develops his convincing characters, he includes insightful commentary on current London (and global) culture, such as the "Starbuck-ing" of the world, tabloid culture, and our obsession with celebrity. He doesn't necessarily condemn these things, he just starts conversations about them, or rather his characters do.
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Format: Hardcover
When I read this was a very funny book about four people who try to commit suicide, I was intrigued. I had never read a book by Nick Hornby, but couldn't imagine how such a serious subject could be treated lightly and still be in good taste. Amazingly, Hornby seems to pull this feat off exceedingly well for even though you are saddened by their situations, the laugh-out-loud moments are many and the emotional delving that is done with intelligence and wit make this a rewarding read.

The four protagonists are: Martin, a tv talk-show host whose antics invite public humiliation; Maureen, an older woman and mother of a son who is more vegetable than human; Jess, a young girl who redefines the term deranged personality; and JJ, an American rock star wannabe dropped by both his band and his girl. When these four lost souls meet at the top of a London tower on New Year's Eve, a most unlikely bonding occurs.

Hornby explores the reasons people are brought to the brink of suicide, the reasons some jump and some don't, and most importantly, what it is that makes unhappy people keep on plugging away at finding a better life.

The writer does an excellent job of giving each of the protagonists a unique voice. While the story is told in rotation by each of the four, the reader is never confused as to the person narrating, and that is a remarkable accomplishment, especially since he writes in first person as old, young, male, and female.

Both grim and humorous, and liberally laced with pop culture references, this is a book you'll want to think about long after the last page is read.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd read the review for this months ago in Kirkus, and my first thought was, "How is Hornby going to pull off a book around such an odd topic?" Well, I should have known better than to worry, as Hornby pulls it off with humor and great flair.

As you probably already know, the plot involves 4 people who meet while preparing to jump to their deaths from a famous suicide spot. Instead of doing so, they band together to form one of the strangest support group/families you'll ever read about.

I think many who read this one will feel bad about laughing out loud at certain passages, given the darkness of the subject. However, the ability to make us do that, to be able to laugh at topics like death and suicide, is what makes Hornby a great writer. Even in deadly serious situations, he's able to inject his wit and make us take things just a little bit lighter.

I've been waiting for this one, and it was well worth the wait. Not only do I feel like my expectations and anxieties were met, but that they were easily surpassed. I can't recommend this one highly enough. With all the poor fiction that gets released every week, it's such a great feeling when a gem like this one comes along.
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Format: Hardcover
A Long Way Down starts with the sort of implausible premise--four strangers meet while attempting to commit suicide from the same rooftop--that will make some readers groan at the start. But the premise isn't the problem here; it's what comes afterward.

The opening scene that brings all the characters together is like the book itself a mixed bag. It reads at various times extremely funny, forced, glib, and worst of all, dull. The characters themselves come from all walks of life--class, geography, religion, family relationships, but their voices are surprisingly uniform in this first scene and for too long afterward. They eventually do sharpen and wander away from each other, but it takes a while. One's reaction to them will probably depend as much on the reader's background/personality as on Hornby's skill in character creation. I didn't find much to like in any of them, which certainly colored my reaction to the novel--I simply didn't care enough about any of the characters to overlook some of its flaws.

The structure was also problematic for me. Long Way Down is told from all four viewpoints but so many of the sections were too short or too glibly self-aware, robbing them of depth or power. Settling in for some longer time with each of them would have helped.

The plot sort of meanders from one ludicrous scene to another--some of them working, some of them not so much--an appropriate method for these characters (as is the way the book refuses to wrap things up nice and neat) but one that also robs the book somewhat of the ability to move a reader.

Overall, the book fell flat for me--the plot never compelled, the characters never formed a strong hold on me, the themes were too shallowly explored, and the structure was more of an obstacle than an enhancement. It's funny in many places, readable in most, but it doesn't go much beyond that.
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