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High Fidelity Paperback – August 1, 1996
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
At turns hilarious and morose, this is a wonderfully written character sketch about a guy who carries the story through bad dates, bad choices, a failing business, hapless employees, and odd behavior. Having seen the movie first, it's briefly jarring to find the story taking place in England, but the story itself is intact ... or perhaps I should say the movie artfully captures the slightly dysfunctional approach to romance of the book.
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