About a Boy

About a Boy

by Nick Hornby

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Overview

A wise, hilarious novel from the beloved, award-winning author of Funny Girl, High Fidelity and A Long Way Down. 

Will Freeman may have discovered the key to dating success: If the simple fact that they were single mothers meant that gorgeous women – women who would not ordinarily look twice a Will – might not only be willing, but enthusiastic about dating him, then he was really onto something. Single mothers – bright, attractive, available women – thousands of them, were all over London. He just had to find them.

SPAT: Single Parents – Alone Together. It was a brilliant plan. And Will wasn’t going to let the fact that he didn’t have a child himself hold him back. A fictional two-year-old named Ned wouldn’t be the first thing he’d invented. And it seems to go quite well at first, until he meets an actual twelve-year-old named Marcus, who is more than Will bargained for…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573227339
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/1999
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 191,036
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of seven internationally bestselling novels (Funny Girl, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good, A Long Way Down, Slam and Juliet, Naked) and several works of  non-fiction including Fever Pitch, Songbook and Ten Years In The Tub. He has written screenplay adaptions of Lynn Barber’s An Education, nominated for an Academy Award, Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. He lives in London.

Date of Birth:

April 17, 1957

Place of Birth:

Redhill, Surrey, England

Education:

Jesus College, Cambridge University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"So, have you split up now?"

"Are you being funny?"

People quite often thought Marcus was being funny when he wasn't. He couldn't understand it. Asking his mum whether she'd split up with Roger was a perfectly sensible question, he thought: they'd had a big row, then they'd gone off into the kitchen to talk quietly, and after a little while they'd come out looking serious, and Roger had come over to him, shaken his hand and wished him luck at his new school, and then he'd gone.

"Why would I want to be funny?"

"Well, what does it look like to you?"

"It looks to me like you've split up. But I just wanted to make sure."

"We've split up."

"So he's gone?"

"Yes, Marcus, he's gone."

He didn't think he'd ever get used to this business. He had quite liked Roger, and the three of them had been out a few times; now, apparently, he'd never see him again. He didn't mind, but it was weird if you thought about it. He'd once shared a toilet with Roger, when they were both busting for a pee after a car journey. You'd think that if you'd peed with someone you ought to keep in touch with them somehow.

"What about his pizza?" They'd just ordered three pizzas when the argument started, and they hadn't arrived yet.

"We'll share it. If we're hungry."

"They're big, though. And didn't he order one with pepperoni on it?" Marcus and his mother were vegetarians. Roger wasn't.

"We'll throw it away, then," she said.

"Or we could pick the pepperoni off. I don't think they give you much of it anyway. It's mostly cheese and tomato."

"Marcus, I'm not really thinking about the pizzas right now."

"OK. Sorry. Why did you split up?"

"Oh ... this and that. I don't really know how to explain it."

Marcus wasn't surprised that she couldn't explain what had happened. He'd heard more or less the whole argument, and he hadn't understood a word of it; there seemed to be a piece missing somewhere. When Marcus and his mum argued, you could hear the important bits: too much, too expensive, too late, too young, bad for your teeth, the other channel, homework, fruit. But when his mum and her boyfriends argued, you could listen for hours and still miss the point, the thing, the fruit and homework part of it. It was like they'd been told to argue and just came out with anything they could think of.

"Did he have another girlfriend?"

"I don't think so."

"Have you got another boyfriend?"

She laughed. "Who would that be? The guy who took the pizza orders? No, Marcus, I haven't got another boyfriend. That's not how it works. Not when you're a thirty-eight-year-old working mother. There's a time problem. Ha! There's an everything problem. Why? Does it bother you?"

"I dunno."

And he didn't know. His mum was sad, he knew that—she cried a lot now, more than she did before they moved to London—but he had no idea whether that was anything to do with boyfriends. He kind of hoped it was, because then it would all get sorted out. She would meet someone, and he would make her happy. Why not? His mum was pretty, he thought, and nice, and funny sometimes, and he reckoned there must be loads of blokes like Roger around. If it wasn't boyfriends, though, he didn't know what it could be, apart from something bad.

"Do you mind me having boyfriends?"

"No. Only Andrew."

"Well, yes, I know you didn't like Andrew. But generally? You don't mind the idea of it?"

"No. Course not."

"You've been really good about everything. Considering you've had two different sorts of life."

He understood what she meant. The first sort of life had ended four years ago, when he was eight and his mum and dad had split up; that was the normal, boring kind, with school and holidays and homework and weekend visits to grandparents. The second sort was messier, and there were more people and places in it: his mother's boyfriends and his dad's girlfriends; flats and houses; Cambridge and London. You wouldn't believe that so much could change just because a relationship ended, but he wasn't bothered. Sometimes he even thought he preferred the second sort of life to the first sort. More happened, and that had to be a good thing.

Apart from Roger, not much had happened in London yet. They'd only been here for a few weeks—they'd moved on the first day of the summer holidays—and so far it had been pretty boring. He had been to see two films with his mum, Home Alone 2, which wasn't as good as Home Alone 1, and Honey, I Blew Up the Kids, which wasn't as good as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and his mum had said that modern films were too commercial, and that when she was his age ... something, he couldn't remember what. And they'd been to have a look at his school, which was big and horrible, and wandered around their new neighbourhood, which was called Holloway, and had nice bits and ugly bits, and they'd had lots of talks about London, and the changes that were happening to them, and how they were all for the best, probably. But really they were sitting around waiting for their London lives to begin.

The pizzas arrived and they ate them straight out of the boxes.

"They're better than the ones we had in Cambridge, aren't they?" Marcus said cheerfully. It wasn't true: it was the same pizza company, but in Cambridge the pizzas hadn't had to travel so far, so they weren't quite as soggy. It was just that he thought he ought to say something optimistic. "Shall we watch TV?"

"If you want."

He found the remote control down the back of the sofa and zapped through the channels. He didn't want to watch any of the soaps, because soaps were full of trouble, and he was worried that the trouble in the soaps would remind his mum of the trouble she had in her own life. So they watched a nature programme about this sort of fish thing that lived right down at the bottom of caves and couldn't see anything, a fish that nobody could see the point of; he didn't think that Would remind his mum of anything, much.

—Reprinted from About a Boy by Nick Hornby by permission. Copyright © 1999, Dale Brown. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Table of Contents

In 1995 Nick Hornby's debut novel was published in the United States to rave reviews, and it was a bestseller in both England and the U.S. The New York Times Book Review wrote, "High Fidelity fills you with the same sensation you get from hearing a debut record album that has more charm and verve and depth than anything you can recall." Hornby has now written his second novel, and the prepublication buzz is unlike that of any other book this year. A lengthy excerpt from About a Boy recently appeared in the Christmas Fiction Issue of The New Yorker, and the movie rights to the novel were bought by Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films for more than $3 million.

About a Boy centers around Will Freeman, a London bachelor in his late 30s who really doesn't want any children. He wonders why it bothers people so much that he lives so happily alone in his fashionable, Lego-free flat, with its massive speakers, hardwood floors, and an expensive cream-colored rug that nobody has ever thrown up on. He is a happy bachelor, and all things appear to be good in his life, according to his standards.

Then Will meets Angie. He has never been out with anybody who was a mom before. Angie is truly beautiful. And it has been said that truly beautiful women don't date Will. Suddenly it dawns on him: He can date truly beautiful women with kids who not only want to date him but are enthusiastic about dating him. Then comes the crowning moment, the breakup. Angie breaks up with him, and it is not because of something horrible he has done (which has always been the case in the past); rather it's because of her "situation." Will discovers that beautiful women with children are just happy to be with a "nice" guy, and the clincher is that they break up with him. Thus begins Nick Hornby's funny, compulsive, and contemporary new novel about sex, manliness...and fatherhood.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A follow up to High Fidelity...About a Boy is an acerbic, emotionally richer yet no less funny tale...shrewdly hilarious."—Entertainment Weekly

"Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once. He combines a skilled, intuitive appreciation for the rigors of comic structure with highly original insights about the way the enchantments of popular culture insinuate themselves into middle-class notions of romance."—The New York Times Book Review

"The conversations between Will and Marcus are hilariously loopy."—The Boston Globe

"An amusing male-bonding theme...stylish, well-observed"—People

"Writing with real 'soul.'"—Harper's Bazaar

"An utterly charming, picaresque tale of an older guy, a young kid, and the funky, dysfunctional real-life ties that bind—and unbind."—Vogue

Interviews

On Thursday, May 21st, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Nick Hornby to discuss ABOUT A BOY.


Moderator: Welcome, Nick Hornby! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this evening. How are you doing tonight?

Nick Hornby: I am fine, thanks! I have just flown in from New York and am a bit jet-lagged. Thanks!


Vicky from Dayton, OH: I just finished ABOUT A BOY yesterday and must say I was pleasantly surprised. I am a bookseller and read quite a few new (read: "undiscovered") authors. The book was hilarious and touching without being overly sentimental. It's one I will recommend to customers. Besides being a bookseller, I am also a writer. Can you tell me a little about your writing process? You know, the daily ins and outs of it. I need some inspiration to help me along on the book I just started.

Nick Hornby: I am probably not the person to inspire you. I am lucky enough now to have a writing flat, so I walk from home around the corner and go to a place just for work. I am there from 10:00 to 6:00 every day; quite often I disappear at 11:00 in the morning and go to a record store. I am a real "mess arounder." Quite often I don't do proper work until 4:00. I rewrite a lot as I go along, so the first draft I have is usually not in bad shape. Usually....


Laura from Boston, MA: I'm very excited that you'll be coming to Boston, although, I think I may be your only female fan here (hee hee). How much of yourself do you write in your stories? I know you probably hear this question all the time: Your male characters are always the ones in need of growing up, whereas the women are the more stabilizing of the two. Is that how you view relationships?

Nick Hornby: I think that is true of HIGH FIDELITY. I definitely wanted to write about the male character in the book needing to move on, so the female characters were in direct contrast to his plight. This new book, I think, for example, Fiona is not as sorted out as the other women characters have been. I think as my writing career goes on, you will end up finding as many immature females as males. I am looking forward to seeing you in Boston.


Ian from La Jolla, CA: I must compliment you on an accurate description of the "guy mentality." But the result of HIGH FIDELITY was getting my girlfriend constantly asking me, "Is that how guys really think?" I haven't read ABOUT A BOY yet, but I can only imagine what type of reaction this will bring to my sweet Sharon....

Nick Hornby: It is interesting, but the response I have been getting to HIGH FIDELITY recently was more from women than from men, and a lot of them were saying, "I am Rob, that's me," which surprised me, but it has happened enough so I believe it. I think the gender distinctions are breaking down.


Marty from Boston, MA: I hear that Peter Hedges is writing the movie version of ABOUT A BOY. Is that true? I thought ABOUT A BOY was great, and I am a huge fan of Peter Hedges. How involved are you with the movie production? Have they slated an actor for the role of Will?

Nick Hornby: Yes, it is true that Peter is writing the movie. In fact, I met him for the first time yesterday in New York. We had lunch together, and then he came to the reading in the evening. I loved WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, and I am reading the new book now, and I couldn't be happier with the choice of writer. I think it is great, and I think he is great. He hasn't really got as far as a polished draft, so we haven't started casting. I am reasonably involved -- I am informed and I think if I was very unhappy about anything, they would listen. They have all been really nice so far.


Sharon Waters from San Francisco: Are you married? Do you want to go out with an attractive young female fan of yours?

Nick Hornby: Sharon, I will see you at the reading next week.


David from Statesboro, GA: I have read stories about how snobby the literary scene is in London and how much of the "scene" is determined not by the quality of the work, but rather by who you know. Do you find this to be true? Or are those days past?

Nick Hornby: I didn't know anybody when I started writing. I know more people now, but I can't say that knowing people or not knowing people has any effect one way or the other. I think the London literary scene can be very bitchy and backstabbing, but I don't think they can actually affect your career one way or another.


Marrisa from Dade County, FL: I really like the cover! Did you design the cover?

Nick Hornby: No. I really like it, too, but I haven't come across anyone yet who has designed his own cover. I have come across quite a few who want to kill the person who designed the cover. Luckily I am not in that position.


Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: Kind of a broad question, but I was wondering if you found a difference in the general reception of ABOUT A BOY in England versus here in the States? Do you find the countries to have a slightly different take on the book?

Nick Hornby: I think that the responses to my work in England are slightly different, partly because my first book, FEVER PITCH, which isn't that well-known here, was a big success at home. And because it was a nonfiction book about soccer, it is like everything since has come in that context. I get much more of the "guy stuff," and I get blamed for all sorts of things, like "hooliganism," making football fashionable among middle-class people. In the States, it is much more as if I have only written two books, both of which are novels, and as a consequence, I get treated more as a novelist and less as some kind of weird cultural phenomenon. Also I think that American reviewers are much more used to the very simple and accessible writing that I aim for. In Britain, you tend to have to write with much more opacity if you want to be treated really seriously.


Heide from Reading, PA: Hi, Nick. I loved what you did with the screenplay for "Fever Pitch." Any plans to do screenplays of your newer works?

Nick Hornby: HIGH FIDELITY and ABOUT A BOY have both been bought by American studios, but I am not writing the screenplays. I loved doing "Fever Pitch," but I decided that I didn't want to spend my life adapting stuff I had finished while I was having ideas for other things. But I am writing a couple of original screenplays at the moment.


Karen from Chicago, IL: I've heard a rumor that HIGH FIDELITY will be made into a movie. But the British locations are being changed and Americanized. Will they change the name of Rob and Laura because of the strong association with "The Dick Van Dyke Show"?

Nick Hornby: Not as far as I know. It is funny, but I had completely forgotten Dick Van Dyke when I chose their names, and quite a few Americans have asked me if it was deliberate. It wasn't, I can assure you.


Rick from Middleton, NJ: Were you at all reluctant to write about a character like Will?

Nick Hornby: I think when you are writing about a character who is in many ways very unsympathetic, you of course run a risk of alienating a readership. That is one of the reasons I chose to tell the story from Marcus's point of view as well, and using the alternate chapter structure, but I do think that Will's character is really rescued by his klutziness. He tries to be bad. But he is actually pretty incompetent, which I think gives the readers a way in. There was some debate during the editing process about how bad he should be, and he probably ended up slightly worse as a result of my editor's suggestions.


Sarah from East Village, NY: How long did it take you to write ABOUT A BOY? Have you been working on it since HIGH FIDELITY?

Nick Hornby: Pretty much since then. It took me about 18 months, all in all. But I had a false start. I didn't like what I had done at the beginning and I threw away a big chunk, right before I came to the U.S. in September '96. When I came back from that tour, I knew what I wanted to do with the characters and started again, and that part took me around nine to ten months.


Teddy from NYC: I read a copy of ABOUT A BOY about a month ago, but it was the UK version, which had a different cover. I was wondering how different the U.S. version of the book is. Do you Americanize your books? Do you make any changes from the UK version to the U.S. version?

Nick Hornby: There have been some changes, some of them straightforward vocabulary changes. "Diapers" for "nappies" and so on. And with both HIGH FIDELITY and ABOUT A BOY, there have been some cultural reference changes. For example, in the UK, at one point Marcus watches an Australian soap opera called "Neighbors," which just about every kid in Britain watches, but in the U.S. that became "Saved by the Bell." I quite like doing that, because I do think hard about the pop-culture references, and I would like them to have the same effect in the U.S. wherever possible.


Harris Feldman from Chicago, Illinois: Do you think Arsenal have a good chance to win the Champions' League next year?

Nick Hornby: How come it took nearly 40 minutes for somebody to ask me an Arsenal question? They are really, really, strong at the moment. This is definitely the best Arsenal team in my lifetime. But I do think English clubs are at a disadvantage because of the number of games they have to play. I would be very happy if we made the finals or even the semifinals.


Denise from BellSouth: How extensive is your book tour? How many cities will you go to and in what amount of time? Are you coming to Florida?

Nick Hornby: No, I am not coming to Florida. I am going to 11 cities in three weeks. I am in L.A. until Sunday, then it's San Francisco. I am also visiting Seattle, Boulder, Chicago, Austin, and D.C. among others.


Margo from Plainfield, OH: Can we expect to see your work in any upcoming magazines?

Nick Hornby: Basically, no.... I used to do much more of the smaller stuff (short stories and articles), but over the last couple of years it has been very hard to do that. The books have been successful in several European countries as well as the U.S., which means that when you finish a book, you pretty well spend a year promoting it, by which time publishers or film producers are going crazy at me. So unfortunately, the smaller things are the first to go.


John from JWC901@aol.com: Who do you like in this year's World Cup? Do you have any thoughts on how the French are hogging the tickets and the rumors that many French are planning on striking and closing down the transportation routes across the English Channel?

Nick Hornby: I would like to say that an interesting, exciting new team will win the World Cup, but my bet is it will be the usual suspects, probably a Brazil/Germany final. It does appear as though the ticketing could be handled a lot better, although it seems to me that the basic problem is that millions want to go and there are only thousands of tickets available, and it is hard to blame the host country too much in those circumstances. Although, of course, the English will always do their best to blame the French for anything.


Ann from Minneapolis: Were you disappointed that the movie "Fever Pitch" never got an American distributor?

Nick Hornby: I was until it got one. It has a very small distribution field now, and will be shown in two or three cities some time in the next few months. I think that most U.S. distributors thought that the movie was impossible to market here. It is uncompromisingly British, but I still think there is a lot of stuff to enjoy in it from an American view.


Ann from Minneapolis: As an American, it is often hard to know what books are coming out in the UK and which are worth the hassle to try to get a hold of. Do you know any British authors who are currently writing who might be of interest to your readers?

Nick Hornby: One book that you must look out for is BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY by Helen Fielding, which will be published in the U.S. in the next couple of weeks. It is very funny -- in the UK there was a poster campaign which described the book as FEVER PITCH for girls, which indicates that we are kindred spirits. It has easily been the most popular book in Britain over the past year. Just about everybody in the world has read it.


Tim from New Jersey: Alexi Lalas was on AOL tonight doing a chat. Do you agree with me that he is an extremely overrated football player? Do you think rugby and football will always be tops in England and that baseball, basketball, and American football will always reign in popularity here in the U.S.?

Nick Hornby: I think Alexi Lalas's record in Europe speaks for itself. Enough said. Yes, I am sure that the sporting cultural divide will remain, although I read somewhere once that U.S. advertisers were becoming very frustrated that none of your sports are exportable and that if everyone in the U.S. played and watched soccer, it would make them a lot more money, which strikes me as a pretty good reason not to do it.


Emma from Strathom Common, UK: Do you ever see yourself leaving London?

Nick Hornby: No, I don't even see myself leaving North London. I have all sorts of reasons to stay. But one of the most compelling at the moment is my desire to write films, and I think for someone like me, the UK film industry with its small budgets and concentration on character and dialogue is a much happier environment than Hollywood. Also London has everything that I need as a writer. I am homesick. I would even like to be in Strathom.


Martin from Lawrenceville, NJ: Are you already at work on your next novel? Can you tell us about it?

Nick Hornby: I haven't started it yet, and I don't think I will be able to start until '99. I have an idea for it, but I don't want to say anything about it in case it collapses on me. That's often what happens with ideas -- you need to jump on them a few times to check that they can support your weight before you start work.


Moderator: Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Nick Hornby. We have thoroughly enjoyed your responses to all of our questions, and we of course hope you will join us again with your next book. Do you have any last words for your online audience?

Nick Hornby: Thank you all for being so interesting. I really enjoyed it, and I hope to see some of you at some of the readings. If anyone wants to turn up at Book Soup here in L.A. in an hour, I would know that there would be some kind of audience.


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About a Boy 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great read!! So funny I laughed out loud. The boy Marcus made me laugh so much. I loved it!!
Taylor Petekiewicz More than 1 year ago
About a boy is clever realistic and sweet, i laughed aloud on the subway, and nobody gave me strange looks bc this is NYC, the characters are remarkable,
Sabi13 More than 1 year ago
About a boy is the story of a friendship between a 36 years old man, Will, and a 12 years old boy, Marcus. Will is a rich and handsom man who especially likes women. We can't believe that Marcus and Will can be friends one day because of their differences; but in his way Will'll be very helpful to Marcus who's always bully at school. Marcus' mother, Fiona, spends her days crying so she can't understand what's happening to her son. At this moment Marcus and Will become "inseparable" and as in almost all the books or movies there's a happy end. The book and the movie aren't exactly the same as usual but it's a bit disappoining! If you dont't know what to do or if it's a rainy day, I think it could be a good book to entertain.
M-N-M More than 1 year ago
I think that "About a boy" is a very well written book and I really enjoyed reading it. But I kept waiting for something a bit more exiting to happen, but it never really did. The film was more dynamic and well casted. Especially, Hugh Grant fits very well with Will's character. Will is a 36 years old handsome rich man who has many girl friends for shot time. He is extremely selfish and enjoys single life style. At the End of the story, I wondered why Will didn't love Fiona. He listened to her story in order to prevent her from trying to kill herself again. This is because of her son, Marcus, with whom he made a friendship. This is because he thought that would be able to help someone for the first time in his life. In addition, I expected that Fiona would be more beautiful woman in the film. I also wondered if Will would have loved her if she had been more beautiful and attractive, but I don't think so. From my point of view Marcus and Will and everyone else each learnt something valuable from the mixed up relationships that form throughout the book.
Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
Nick Hornby presents a story with a title that is reflective of both of its main characters. It's quite fascinating to watch both of them change--even if they don't entirely grow up.
R_Friesz More than 1 year ago
This book is good for a leisure read, but for the purpose of analyzing it is not good. While yes, the book did talk about deep topics such as suicide and father abandonment, it came out and said exactly what it meant. There were no hidden meanings. That being said, I quite enjoyed the strange dynamics of the relationship between Will and Marcus. They have a nice balance of child and adult; each one making up for the lacks of the other. Marcus helps Will grow up a bit. Similarly, Will helps Marcus become more of a kid. Will sarcastic humor, and Marcus's dense literal intrepratations make for some funny conversations. One thing I found disappointing in this book was that there wasn't a lot of excitement. The story seems real and I related to it, but sometimes it's the unrealistic climax that really makes a book. This story is somewhat lacking in that area. Overall it was a good book, and I would suggest reading it on a rainy weekend when you need a good laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is both intertaining and emotional and it explains how hard it may be to find someone who cares for you. We may take for granite all the people who care for us for we never had to find that person and work so hard to fit in, being an outcast.
KarriesKorner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. Hornby gets all his characters to come alive and be likable. As shallow as Will is at the beginning of the book, I really liked him by the end of the book. This book is funny, warm-hearted, realistic and charming.Listening to it was especially nice because I listen to listen to an English accent.
stephmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the surface, Nick Hornby offers up a story that could be a truly awful Lifetime move of the week - rich cad befriends nerdy boy, all learn lesson about love and right the world.Fortunately, Nick Hornby is far more gifted than to leave these characters in such a state. This is a difficult novel where we do see the longing for the Lifetime movie ending, we see an adult grow up and we see that each of us pretending to be our own islands will ultimately work to our detriment as we're determined to force the rest of the world to acknowledge our island-i-ness. Hornby doesn't forbid our uniqueness, About a Boy just questions whether we cling to these lifestyles as a way of keeping the rest of the world at arms length. These characters are well drawn and recognizable.For those that are wondering about the book vs. the movie, I was quite pleased all the way around in that they didn't make changes I feared after reading the book and hearing that there was to be a film version.
pdxwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shallow, self-absorbed, independently wealthy, unemployed almost-40 man (Will) meets odd, intelligent, lonely, 12-year-old boy (Marcus) with depressed single mum.Sounds dull, but it isn't. It's witty, insightful, and intelligent. The writing style moves the reader along at a nice clip, with chapters alternating between Will and Marcus.I didn't, however, like the ending. It's better than the cheesy ending of the movie version, with Hugh Grantsinging "Killing Me Softly", but I think the book would have ended on a better note if Marcus hadn't made the particular change he made. I don't want to spoil it, so that's all I'll say about that.
Alirambles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nick Hornby seems to have this reputation as an "easy read," light-hearted books that get made into movies. In some sense that's well-deserved, I guess--his books certainly aren't hard reads, and they make you laugh, and I guess you could zip through them laughing and be done with it. But Hornby also has a finger on the pulse of human nature, and the relationships his characters develop are telling. In "About a Boy," Will is almost a caricature of the shallow bachelor, and Hornby takes this so far, it's laughable. But while you're laughing, take a minute to think--Will's not that different from a lot of people, he's just more honest about it...and yet, less honest, as he pretends to be someone completely different in order to pick up women. (And again--is that all that different from many of us? We don't make up fake children so we can go to single-parent support groups...but do we show our true selves to the people we're trying to impress?)"About a boy," like Hornby's other books, shows how even the most hopeless people can be changed by unlikely people and events. And, it does so in a way that will make you smile, if not laugh out loud. A quick read, yes, but well worth putting more thought into than a 2-hour movie allows.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How do you become a human being? Simple. You form relationships with other human beings. Otherwise you are, as the main character says of himself, "blank." The movie changed the Nirvana theme to Rap, which pretty much took away the irony of the title (About a Girl), but it was one of the few movies where I actually liked Hugh Grant.
loremipsem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is funny and wise. Will is a self absorbed man who does not have any relationships with anything until Marcus comes along and shakes him out of his apathy. The tender way that Marcus is portrayed is wonderful. We can laugh along, but there is something wide eyed and wonderful about this boy.
Caitak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So glad that I've finally read this - I took full advantage of a day off and didn't put it down (apart from when we watched the film).The characters felt really real. Will should not have been that likeable, but he was; I just wanted to give Marcus a hug. :-)Really clever how it had moments that were hilarious followed by really sad bits, then bits that made you laugh, but shouldn't have because it was totally inappropriate.The ending was different to the film and I think both worked in their own way.
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Will, 36, a man who knows more about being a child than being an adult, and Marcus, 12, a boy who knows more about being an adult than being a child. This is the story of their unlikely relationship and how they each help the other to live a fuller, happier life. Definitely cute, definitely well-written, and definitely an easy read. I'd recommend this for anyone in the mood for a mental break.
cossy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a great book. a very funny, quick read that might inspire you to invite more people into your life. even if doesn't its cool to read a book where kurt cobain's suicide is central point of the plot.
JohnnyMcNugget on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Nick Hornby's best, right behind How to Be Good in my opinion. A complete slacker who has never had to work in his life has to deal with the real world a bit when a dorky kid befriends him. Hornby is at his best when his characters find that bit of humanity that makes even them likable.
TanyaTomato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've discovered Nick Hornby as an author instead of just seeing the movies that his books have been made out of, and I have to say, he is good. The characters are amusing, and the stories are interesting. This particular story is great, and even though I had seen the movie I enjoyed reading it.
wordygirl39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, loved the movie, love Nick. I hope I get to meet Hornby someday and tell him how much he influenced my own writing. I can't imagine many people who wouldn't enjoy this book for a quick, fast, read that makes one feel grateful for the life one has. Good stuff.
sarahlouise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this amazing novel shifts between two voices--one a boy who is too much a man and a man who is too much a boy and how they both are able to take their actual roles through the events in this novel. Also, a great movie. Mental health issues are presented with sensitivity and honesty.
lyssrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Originally, I picked up a friend's copy of this while watching babysitting, simply as a means of amusing myself while the kid was happily playing with some toys. I'd already seen the movie, and figured the book would probably be something that I could pick up and put down fairly easily.I was wrong.See, I went into this thinking I obviously knew the story and the characters - but what happened was I quickly forgot about the movie version, and became fascinated with the story of Will, the selfish slacker who doesn't really have much of a point, and Marcus, the nerdy little boy who makes Will realize that yes, he does.Once I started reading, I was hooked, and ended up purchasing my own copy, which I quickly devoured in about 4 days.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am embarassed that I finished this mediocre book. Chick lit - of the sort where the lit is meant very lightly. Hornby had one story to offer the world and it was published as High Fidelity...
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book isn¿t about much ¿ I mean, there¿s not much plot. What it is about is people trying to figure out their lives, just as we all are doing. Each character seems like someone you might know: a friend, an acquaintance, someone you glance at in a coffeeshop and wonder about. They bumble through their lives, and in the process, they come together and make one another¿s lives a little better.At the heart of the story is a boy ¿ a 12-year-old outsider who can¿t fit in to his London school and whose mother has recently attempted suicide. He meets a man ¿ an aimless, rich, 30-nothing trying desperately to fill his days while avoiding becoming connected to anyone. Almost against their wills, the two become friends and manage to help each other make the human connections they¿ve been needing.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Acceptable brain candy.
ursula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful, funny book, turned into an equally beautiful, funny movie.