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A Long Way Down
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on June 1, 2017
I never knew! What took me so long to read a Nick Hornby book? It was great fun from the very first page. I love the way he writes and his characters are wonderful. It's light reading, but not too light. The entire cast is suicidal after all. The writing is clever and full of humor. He's a master of the ironic moment. There's not a trite wrap up at the end. There could be, it is that sort of book. But instead he does a great scene that's a parody of the trite, happy-ending, wrap up. And it's just that sort of thing that makes the book so fun. I plan to read many more of his books.
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on July 16, 2014
At first I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish the book. Since it was a book club choice, I stuck with it, and It did get better...Fortunately, the humorous scenes lightened up the overall tone of depression and despair.
The author did an excellent job of developing the main characters, as well as describing their flaws and strengths. Even one particular building plays a main part in the story. Two characters were much more likable than two others, although one of the characters, as difficult as he/she was, actually got the ball rolling for everyone else. Am I glad I read the book? Yes. Will I read it again? Probably not.
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on October 4, 2017
If you're looking for an amazing novel, this is not it. But, it's a nice light read, even though it's about suicide. Pretty basic and simple premise an characters. No big reveals or complications to immerse yourself into.
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on January 30, 2014
I bought this before missing two flights and being rerouted through 3 cities, spending over 15 hours in planes or airports. And I didn't even mind (although if I were a faster reader, I might have). I finished it in one day, and was unashamedly laughing aloud on the plane.

Hornby expertly portrays four unique, round, and relate-ably flawed characters, leading to your own introspection, but with a slight feeling of superiority. He perfectly voices Jess, Martin, and Maureen, but slightly misses on JJ, the American (granted, I may be biased). His humor is undeniable, and although there is substance to the novel, it is initially difficult to understand. But each featherweight page accumulates, until halfway through, it hits you, and you keep reading, not just for the biting tete-a-tete between our four protagonists, but for the seemingly impossible conflict resolution.

I have never read a book that had me laughing so hard, but still left me thinking afterwards (Catch 22 may be the closest, but lost it's humor halfway through). After reading this, I cannot think of another author I would rather grab a pint with than Nick Hornby.
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on August 9, 2014
"I had wanted to kill myself not because I hated living, but because I loved it...I think that's how Maureen and Jess and Martin feel. They love life, but it's a f----- up for them and that's why I met them, and that's why we're all still around. We were up on that roof because we couldn't find a way back into life..."

If it were possible to give this book 3.8 stars I would. At times A Long Way Down is poignant and insightful, and at others it's choppy and irrelevant. Nick Hornby takes a dark topic and is able to make it seem hilarious and absurd.

One of things that I do love most about this novel is the title. I love the double word play.... a long way down looking over a tower block ledge.... and that Hornby's characters keep choosing to take the long way ( as opposed to the short way) down the tower block.

If you are looking for a different type of novel, I would suggest giving this one a try.
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on December 31, 2015
We've all had our moments. Though I've never been as low as these characters, I still found a way to relate to them. I found the fact that all of the characters were so different to be the best part. They found a common ground, as dark as it was, and stuck with it. Disfunctional and sad. Funny and light. This has everything.
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on May 10, 2012
I found this book to be outstanding, mostly because the author did something that is somewhat difficult to get accepted by the literary world... he used multiple points of view. It is typical (and most accepted, as per literary agents and publishers) for a novel to have only 1 or 2 POVs. Hornby wrote this story with each of the characters having their direct POV shared with the reader; he even titled each chapter with the character's name. As a writer, I find this to be an amazing "coloring outside the lines" type of endeavor. With my own novel that I'm currently working on, the format is similar to this novel, therefore I can speak from experience in stating that the multiple POV format is truly difficult. In Hornby's novel, this format is not only employed, but it is done to perfection (in my opinion) and actually adds quite a lot of depth to the stories of each individual character as well as the collective storyline of the group, tying the entire story together quite effectively.

The format is clearly my favorite feature of this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to delve into something unique. But I also loved this story for the plot and the difficulty in making a profoundly disturbing issue (suicide) something that the reader can relate to while getting a bunch of laughs in the meantime. Again, I highly recommend this novel, especially for people who enjoy stories that do not take the most likely or accepted path.
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on September 21, 2012
I must begin: do NOT read this book if you are not interested in introspection (that was a double negative wasn't it), or if you like fairytales...

Suicide told from the perspective of four unlikely characters. The disgraced celebrity. The rebellious 19 year old. The lonely single mother. The washed up musician. Their lives intertwine in A Long Way Down, in Hornby's snarky, creative and ultimately soulful novel.

Hornby writes from the first-person perspective of 4 characters. By alternating between characters, the story is passed off from chapter to chapter like a baton. In the process nothing gets glossed over, as much as nuisance and perspectives change as a different character takes the narrative further.

All the characters are authentic. In fact, Hornby has perfected a twenty-first century style of writing all his own of not becoming self indulgent and getting bogged in details, as so many writers do. Hornby is keenly aware of his audience and shows the reader great respect moving on wear other authors would like to wax and digress.

This is the rare book that is both very funny (out laugh out loud) and very sentimental. It is after all about life and death and the banality of our existence.
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on December 14, 2011
The first thing I will say is that if you mind cussing in a book, do not pick this up. It has a lot of cussing in it. I don't really mind cussing in a book but at times I started to feel as if the author was trying to see how many times he could fit the word F--- in the book. Im not saying it did not fit the characters but it was overused, in my opinion.
This book is about four people who go to the top of a building to jump off on new years eve, meet each other and decide to come down after all. I put this book off for awhile because I thought it was going to be one of those way to sappy insperational stories and that isn't what I really wanted to read. Don't get me wrong they have there place but it was not something that I was interested in right now. I can't say what made me take another look at this book and then buy it,but I'm so glad that I did because it was anything but what I thought it would be. A lot of people say this is a really funny book and while some parts made me smile, I did not really laugh out loud at any of it.
The characters were really like able and I really enjoyed the different writing style for each of them. Each part of the book is from each persons viewpoint, and goes back and forth.
The book made me think, as I've been we're they are before and recently had a loss in my family so I know that depression. A long way down gave me other ways to look at things without being a really serious or depressing book, I really enjoyed it.
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on March 18, 2011
For those of you who did not care for the book, perhaps you didn't get it. This was a fantastic book, with sharp witty dialogue and it dealt with a tragic subject. If you've never been there, that is, contemplating suicide, then you probably won't enjoy this book. But it brings me and the characters to many realizations that thinking about killing yourself and actually doing it are two different animals. Sure, after the first read I thought it was just okay. Then I read it again and I liked it more. After the third read, a couple of days ago, I truly began to love this book because I can relate to most of the main characters in some way. I also found some comic genius in there, at least when it comes to writing a novel. Sure, About a Boy is good and so is High Fidelity, as is Juliet, Naked. But A Long Way Down takes risks, and it does things that most authors are afraid to do, which is talk about suicide and it does it in such a smart way that it becomes a book that is actually against suicide in the long run.

This book reminds me of something that Chuck Palahniuk would have written, only it is better written than that. Nick Hornby has such a great writing style and such an insight into the four main characters that this book just jumps off the pages at you. It is written like an oral biography, kind of like the book Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey, which I also loved and thought was pretty inventive. What can I say? I love books with dark humor and dark subject matter. While you naysayers may love books about rose petals and gardening, I search for books that are a little more realistic to the times we're living in and benefit deeply from it. Bravo, Nick Hornby, bravo.
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