High Fidelity

High Fidelity

by Nick Hornby

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573225519
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1996
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 107,310
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.88(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
Now... Laura leaves first thing Monday morning with a hold-all and a carrier bag. It's sobering, really, to see how little she is taking with her, this woman who loves her things, her teapots and her books and her prints and the little sculpture she bought in India: I look at the bag and think, Jesus, this is how much she doesn't want to live with me.
We hug at the front door, and she's crying a little.
"I don't really know what I'm doing," she says.
"I can see that," I say, which is sort of a joke and sort of not. "You don't have to go now. You can stay until whenever."
"Thanks. But we've done the hard part now. I might as well, you know . . ."
"Well, stay for tonight, then."
But she just grimaces, and reaches for the door handle.
It's a clumsy exit. She hasn't got a free hand, but she tries to open the door anyway and can't, so I do it for her, but I'm in the way, so I have to go through on to the landing to let her out, and she has to prop the door open because I haven't got a key, and I have to squeeze back past her to catch the door before it shuts behind her. And that's it.
I regret to say that this great feeling, part liberation and part nervous excitement, enters me somewhere around my toes and sweeps through me in a great wave. I have felt this before, and I know it doesn't mean that much-confusingly, for example, it doesn't mean that I'm going to feel ecstatically happy for the next few weeks. But I do know that I should work with it, enjoy it while it lasts.
This is how I commemorate my return to the Kingdom of the Single: I sit down in my chair, the one that will stay here with me, and pick bits of the stuffing out of the arm; I light a cigarette, even though it is still early and I don't really feel like one, simply because I am now free to smoke in the flat whenever I want, without rows; I wonder whether I have already met the next person I will sleep with, or whether it will be someone currently unknown to me; I wonder what she looks like, and whether we'll do it here, or at her place, and what that place will be like; I decide to have a Chess Records logo painted on the sitting room wall. (There was a shop in Camden that had them all-Chess, Stax, Motown, Trojan-stenciled onto thebrickwork beside the entrance, and it looked brilliant. Maybe I could get hold of the guy who did that and ask him to do smaller versions here.) I feel OK. I feel good. I go to work.
My shop is called Championship Vinyl. I sell punk, blues, soul, and R&B, a bit of ska, some indie stuff, some sixties pop-everything for the serious record collector, as the ironically old-fashioned writing in the window says. We're in a quiet street in Holloway, carefully placed to attract the bare minimum of window-shoppers; there's no reason to come here at all, unless you live here, and the people that live here don't seem terribly interested in my Stiff Little Fingers white label (twenty-five quid to you-I paid seventeen for it in 1986) or my mono copy of Blonde on Blonde.
I get by because of the people who make a special effort to shop here Saturdays-young men, always young men, with John Lennon specs and leather jackets and armfuls of square carrier bags-and because of the mail order: I advertise in the back of the glossy rock magazines, and get letters from young men, always young men, in Manchester and Glasgow and Ottowa, young men who seem to spend a disproportionate amount of their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and "ORIGINAL NOT RERELEASED" underlined Frank Zappa albums. They're as close to being mad as makes no difference.
I'm late to work, and when I get there Dick is already leaning against the door reading a book. He's thirty-one years old, with long, greasy black hair; he's wearing a Sonic Youth T-shirt, a black leather jacket that is trying manfully to suggest that it has seen better days, even though he only bought it a year ago, and a Walkman with a pair of ludicrously large headphones which obscure not only his ears but half his face. The book is a paperback biography of Lou Reed. The carrier bag by his feet-which really has seen better days-advertises a violently fashionable American independent record label; he went to a great deal of trouble to get hold of it, and he gets very nervous when we go anywhere near it. He uses it to carry tapes around; he has heard most of the music in the shop, and would rather bring new stuff to work-tapes from friends, bootlegs he has ordered through the post-than waste his time listening to anything for a second time. ("Want to come to the pub for lunch, Dick?" Barry or I ask him a couple of times a week. He looks mournfully at his little stack of cassettes and sighs. "I'd love to, but I've got all these to get through.")
"Good morning, Richard."
He fumbles nervously with the giant headphones, gets one side stuck around his ear, and the other side falls over one eye.
"Oh, hi. Hi, Rob."
"Sorry I'm late."
"No, no problem."
"Good weekend?"
I unlock the shop as he scrabbles around for his stuff.
"All right, yeah, OK. I found the first Liquorice Comfits album in Camden. The one on Testament of Youth. It was never released here. Japanese import only."
"Great." I don't know what the fuck he's talking about.
"I'll tape it for you."
"Thanks."
"'Cos you liked their second one, you said. Pop, girls, etc. The one with Hattie Jacques on the cover. You didn't see the cover, though. You just had the tape I did for you."
I'm sure he did tape a Liquorice Comfits album for me, and I'm sure I said I liked it, too. My flat is full of tapes Dick has made me, most of which I've never played.
"How about you, anyway? Your weekend? Any good? No good?"
I cannot imagine what kind of conversation we'd have if I were to tell Dick about my weekend. He'd probably just crumble to dust if I explained that Laura had left. Dick's not big on that sort of thing; in fact, if I were ever to confess anything of a remotely personal nature-that I had a mother and father, say, or that I'd been to school when I was younger-I reckon he'd just blush, and stammer, and ask if I'd heard the new Lemonheads album.
"Somewhere in between. Good bits and bad bits."
He nods. This is obviously the right answer.
The shop smells of stale smoke, damp, and plastic dustcovers, and it's narrow and dingy and dirty and overcrowded, partly because that's what I wanted-this is what record shops should look like, and only Phil Collins's fans bother with those that look as clean and wholesome as a suburban Habitat-and partly because I can't get it together to clean or redecorate it.
There are browser racks on each side, and a couple more in the window, and CDs and cassettes on the walls in glass cases, and that's more or less the size of it; it's just about big enough, provided we don't get any customers, so most days it's just about big enough. The stockroom at the back is bigger than the shop part in the front, but we have no stock, really, just a few piles of secondhand records that nobody can be bothered to price up, so the stockroom is mostly for messing about in. I'm sick of the sight of the place, to be honest. Some days I'm afraid I'll go berserk, rip the Elvis Costello mobile down from the ceiling, throw the "Country Artists (Male) A-K" rack out into the street, go off to work in a Virgin Megastore, and never come back.
Dick puts a record on, some West Coast psychedelic thing, and makes us some coffee while I go through the post; and then we drink the coffee; and then he tries to stuff some records into the bulging, creaking browser racks while I parcel up a couple of mail orders; and then I have a look at the Guardian quick crossword while he reads some American import rock magazine; then he has a look at the Guardian quick crossword while I read the American import magazine; and before we know it, it's my turn to make the coffee.
At about half-past eleven, an Irish drunk called Johnny stumbles in. He comes to see us about three times a week, and his visits have become choreographed and scripted routines that neither he nor I would want to change. In a hostile and unpredictable world, we rely on each other to provide something to count on.
"Fuck off, Johnny," I tell him.
"So my money's no good to you?" he says.
"You haven't got any money. And we haven't got anything that you want to buy."
This is his cue to launch into an enthusiastic rendition of Dana's "All Kinds of Everything," which is my cue to come out from behind the counter and lead him back toward the door, which is his cue to hurl himself at one of the browser racks, which is my cue to open the door with one hand, loosen his grip on the rack with the other, and push him out. We devised these moves a couple of years ago, so we've got them off pat now.
Johnny is our only prelunch customer. This isn't a job for the wildly ambitious. Barry doesn't show up until after lunch, which isn't unusual. Both Dick and Barry were employed to work part-time, three days each, but shortly after I'd taken them on they both started turning up every day, including Saturdays. I didn't know what to do about it-if they really had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, I didn't want to, you know, draw attention to it, in case it prompted some sort of spiritual crisis-so I upped their money a bit and left it at that. Barry interpreted the pay rise as a signal to cut his hours back, so I haven't given him one since. That was four years ago, and he's never said anything about it.
He comes into the shop humming a Clash riff. Actually, "humming" is the wrong word: he's making that guitar noise that all little boys make, the one where you stick your lips out, clench your teeth and go "DA-DA!" Barry is thirty-three years old.
"Awlright boys? Hey, Dick, what's this music, man? It stinks." He makes a face and holds his nose. "Phwooar."
Barry intimidates Dick, to the extent that Dick rarely says a word when Barry is in the shop. I only get involved when Barry is being really offensive, so I just watch Dick reach for the hi-fi on the shelf above the counter and turn the cassette off.
"Thank fuck for that. You're like a child, Dick. You need watching all the time. I don't know why I should have to do it all, though. Rob, didn't you notice what he was putting on? What are you playing at, man?"
He talks relentlessly, and more or less everything he says is gibberish. He talks a lot about music, but also a lot about books (Terry Pratchett and anything else which features monsters, planets, and so on), and films, and women. Pop, girls, etc., as the Liquorice Comfits said. But his conversation is simply enumeration: if he has seen a good film, he will not describe the plot, or how it made him feel, but where it ranks in his best-of-year list, his best-of-all-time list, his best-of-decade list-he thinks and talks in tens and fives, and as a consequence, Dick and I do too. And he makes us write lists as well, all the time: "OK, guys. Top five Dustin Hoffman films." Or guitar solos, or records made by blind musicians, or Gerry and Sylvia Anderson shows ("I don't believe you've got Captain Scarlet at number one, Dick. The guy was immortal! What's fun about that?"), or sweets that come in jars ("If either of you have got Rhubarb and Custard in the top five, I'm resigning now.").
Barry puts his hand into his leather jacket pocket, produces a tape, puts it in the machine, and jacks up the volume. Within seconds the shop is shaking to the bass line of "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves. It's February. It's cold. It's wet. Laura has gone. I don't want to hear "Walking on Sunshine." Somehow it doesn't fit my mood.
"Turn it off, Barry." I have to shout, like a lifeboat captain in a gale.
"It won't go up any more."
"I didn't say 'up,' you fuckwit. I said 'off."'
He laughs, and walks through into the stockroom, shouting out the horn parts: "Da DA! da da da da da-da da-da-da-da." I turn it off myself, and Barry comes back into the shop.
"What are you doing?"
"I don't want to hear 'Walking on Sunshine'!"
"That's my new tape. My Monday morning tape. I made it last night, specially."
"Yeah, well, it's fucking Monday afternoon. You should get out of bed earlier."
"And you'd have let me play it this morning, would you?"
"No. But at least this way I've got an excuse."
"Don't you want something to cheer you up? Bring a bit of warmth to your miserable middle-aged bones?"
"Nope."
"What do you want to hear when you're pissed off then?"
"I don't know. Not 'Walking on Sunshine,' for a start."
"OK, I'll wind it on."
"What's next?"
"'Little Latin Lupe Lu."'
I groan.
"Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels?" Dick asks.
"No. The Righteous Brothers." You can hear the defensiveness in Barry's voice. He has obviously never heard the Mitch Ryder version.
"Oh. Oh well. Never mind." Dick would never go so far as to tell Barry that he's messed up, but the implication is clear.
"What?" says Barry, bristling.
"Nothing."
"No, come on. What's wrong with the Righteous Brothers?"
"Nothing. I just prefer the other one," says Dick mildly.
"Bollocks."
"How can it be bollocks to state a preference?" I ask.
"If it's the wrong preference, it's bollocks."
Dick shrugs and smiles.
"What? What? What's that smug smile for?"
"Leave him alone, Barry. It doesn't matter. We're not listening to fucking 'Little Latin Lupe Lu' anyway, so give it a rest."
"Since when did this shop become a fascist regime?"
"Since you brought that terrible tape in."
"All I'm trying to do is cheer us up. That's all. Very sorry. Go and put some old sad bastard music on, see if I care."
"I don't want old sad bastard music on either. I just want something I can ignore."
"Great. That's the fun thing about working in a record shop, isn't it? Playing things that you don't want to listen to. I thought this tape was going to be, you know, a talking point. I was going to ask you for your top five records to play on a wet Monday morning and all that, and you've gone and ruined it."
"We'll do it next Monday."
"What's the point of that?"
And so on, and on, probably for the rest of my working life.
I'd like to do a top five records that make you feel nothing at all; that way, Dick and Barry would be doing me a favor. Me, I'll be playing the Beatles when I get home. Abbey Road, probably, although I'll program the CD to skip over "Something." The Beatles were bubblegum cards and Help at the Saturday morning cinema and toy plastic guitars and singing "Yellow Submarine" at the top of my voice in the back row of the coach on school trips. They belong to me, not to me and Laura, or me and Charlie, or me and Alison Ashworth, and though they'll make me feel something, they won't make me feel anything bad.

Reprinted from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Nick Hornby. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"As funny, compulsive and contemporary a first novel as you could wish for."—GQ

"One of the top ten books of the year."—Entertainment Weekly

"It is rare that a book so hilarious is also so sharp about sex and manliness, memory and music."—The New Yorker

"Mr. Hornby captures the loneliness and childishness of adult life with such precision and wit that you'll find yourself nodding and smiling. High Fidelity fills you with the same sensation that you get from hearing a debut record album that has more charm and verve and depth than anything you can recall."—The New York Times Book Review

"Hornby's seamless prose and offhand humor make for one hilarious set piece after another, as suffering, self-centered Rob ruminates on women, sex, and Abbey Road. But then he's forced to consider loneliness, fitting-in, death, and failure—and that is what lingers."—Spin

"Keep this book away from your girlfriend—it contains too many of your secrets to let it fall into the wrong hands."—Details

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs...); top five Elvis Costello songs ("Alison"...); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly...). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of "Baby, I Love Your Way" makes him cry. But maybe it's just that he's always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CD's that this implies, might not be so bad.
ABOUT NICK HORNBY

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels 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.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

I'm always rather amazed when people talk about your books as being jolly accounts of popular culture. There are a lot of potential disasters for your characters and they're hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

Somebody said that it was the "comedy of depression." I think it is why a certain group of people respond so strongly to the books, all the characters are depressed.

I think you actually use the word depression in all the books?

I guess there are an awful lot of people out there who do feel depressed and don't find that low level depression reflected in many books that they read. Literature is usually much more crisis-focused.

You wouldn't describe your books as "domestic," but you write about daily lives and ordinary things, which maybe one doesn't get in a lot of books.

I don't mind my books being described as domestic at all. It was very much an impetus when I started writing. I read a lot books by women and identified with them much more because I lived a domestic life - and most of us do - and that really wasn't reflected in any of the books written by men. It seemed odd to me that most of us bring up families and go to work and yet the books our male representatives are writing about huge things in history and people on the edge. Of course we have a need for those books, but there did seem to be a bit of a hole where no one was writing about what actually happened.

Was that reflected in your own reading? Who are the writers you admire most?

At the time that I started writing I had just discovered the books of Anne Tyler and Lorrie Moore. I'd never read a book that more precisely articulated what I wanted to do than Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. There were some depressed and lost characters and a lot of humour, and I just felt this is what I want to be when I grow up. I had read two Lorrie Moore books, Self Help and Like Life, just before Fever Pitch came out. Again they had very sharp humour but were incredibly accessible and I think it was something particularly at the time that had been lost from contemporary British fiction.

Do you feel much more at home with American contempory fiction than British fiction?

Yeah, I feel much more at home. I think there's always been that strain of American writing that wants to write simply and accessibly, but intelligently. I think in this country we are much more hung up on demonstrating that you are writing a book and being clever about it, and consequently people weren't reading them much here.

Were not reading the British writers' books?

Yes. If you have a short-list of six Booker Prize books, people read the one that wins. Because it won the other five are completely disregarded and this is somehow supposed to be representative of our literary culture. I do think in the 1980s there was a huge gap between best-selling books and literature, and there really wasn't anything in between. For me Roddy Doyle was an important part of that. When I read The Commitments it was simple and funny. It was about things I understood and you could see a great rush of identification with Roddy's books.

You've mentioned the Booker Prize. Do you think that awards such as this misrepresent literature and the kinds of books that are out there?

I think that the Booker Prize sets a tone of a certain kind of literary writer. As a young writer you're looking at two polarities that you don't really like the look of. There was the Jackie Collins stuff on one side, and there was this very difficult, dark, inaccessible literature on the other.

I think there is a general desire to read good books. People read books on the way to work and before they go to bed. We've all had that terrible feeling that you're making no impression on a novel at all and you're 30 pages in and there's 472 pages left and you've been reading it for three weeks already. I think the Americans have always understood that once you have a price on the back of your book there is some kind of contract you're entering into.

Yes, and American authors do have that pop-culture feeding in too.

It seemed obvious to me that popular culture is an important part of all our lives and it should have some kind of reflection in the books we are reading. I've never understood why people didn't describe or just mention what TV programmes people were watching, I've always suspected it's something to do with having an eye on posterity.

Take us through an average day in the life of Nick Hornby.

I wander to my office, a small flat just round the corner from home. I smoke, mess round on the Internet, email, and, eventually, start writing—usually just when it's time to pick up my son from school.

What's on your bedside table?

Back copies of The New Yorker, Andrew Rawnsley's book about New Labour, the new Michael Chabon novel and indigestion tablets.

What was the last film you saw?

At the time of the interview, You Can Count On Me, which I loved to bits.

You are now the pop critic for The New Yorker—could you see yourself ever living there?

My domestic circumstances wouldn't allow it at the moment, but I'd love to live in the US for a while at some stage—San Francisco is the place I'd choose.

What are you working on next?

I'm having a go at co-writing a screenplay, with Emma Thompson. She was shown the first draft of something I'd written, and she was so smart about what was wrong with it that I suggested we do it together. We did a bit of plotting last summer, but we haven't started the actual writing yet. I'm looking forward to it.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Why is Rob so conflicted about remaining in the relationship with Laura? Does it have more to do with his age or his particular eccentricities? Do you think many men—and women—go through internal struggles similar to Rob’s when it comes to commitment?
     
  • What issues are at the center of Rob’s dissatisfaction with his life? If he had to make a list of the top 5 reasons he was dissatisfied, what would they be?
     
  • Why is it so important for Rob to contact and meet the women who have dumped him? Does he find what he was hoping to discover? What does he learn that surprises him?
     
  • Why does Rob turn to familiar songs in times of crisis? What solace do they provide? What does the book reveal about the ways in which popular music affects our lives? What role does popular music play in memory and emotional attachments? Can you think of an example from your own experience, where a pop song provided an uncanny soundtrack for your life at a particular time?
     
  • Rob, Barry, and Dick have an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. What are the benefits and liabilities of this particular talent? How do they use that knowledge in social situations?
     
  • Why doesn’t Rob stay in regular contact with friends? What is behind his emotional distance from friends and family?
     
  • What is the significance of lists in Rob’s life? Why are they used as a recurring motif in the book?
     
  • On page 247 Rob says “I saw, for the first time, how scared I am of dying, and of other people dying….” What role does death—and the fear of death—play in fidelity and infidelity? Is that fear a crutch for Rob, an impediment, or another matter entirely?
     
  • In what ways do Barry and Dick represent different parts of Rob’s personality? In what ways are they completely unique individuals, different than Rob? How does each one help him as a friend? What, if anything, does Rob learn from them?
     
  • Compilation tapes—collections of different songs on the same tape—carry a special significance for Rob. What meanings do they embody for him, and what does it mean when he gives someone a tape he’s compiled? What is he really giving to a woman when and if he gives her a new compilation tape?
  • Customer Reviews

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    High Fidelity 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 183 reviews.
    avistrat126 More than 1 year ago
    Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" gives incredible insight into the psyche of a worn out, wounded man. The protagonist, Rob, carries the reader through the novel with a mostly stream of consciousness style that allows for a raw, personal look into his character. This man is middle-aged, but still childish in some respects, as so many adults are. And this is what makes his character so believable, so real. The reader witnesses Rob responding to and recovering from his his girlfriend, Laura's departure. And although the tone reveals a deeply hurt man, Rob's cynical sense of humor and initial, almost immature reaction towards Laura adds a humorous dimension to the book. As his break up forces him to recall his "Top 5" most painful past failed relationships, his insecurities come into light, rooted as far back as age twelve. But his recollections of these flings and obsessions are meant as a jab at Laura, a last-ditch, desperate and immature comeback. This weak and childish attempt is at once slighlty pathetic and largely amusing. But this is what makes this book so fantastic. This is a real person we're dealing with. On top of his break up, Rob also struggles with where his life has brought him. With his run down record store as his only claim for a career, he's easily pinned as a loser by society. But his honest and vulnerable state makes him certainly more affable (I wouldn't go so far as to say pitiable) to the reader. Through the course of the book, the reader will most likely come to establish a relation to Rob, some parallel fom his life to their own. Or perhaps, from the opposite end, a somewhat better understanding of the male psychology, thanks to superb and realistic character development.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was kind of hard to get into. There were points that were funny, but mostly I just kept waiting for the good part.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I had been a fan of the movie adaptation of the same name for quite a while (and I would highly recommend the film along with the book), so when I found a free copy of the novel I was intrigued enough to give it a try. I found that the novel is just as humorous and appealing as the movie, and is filled with witty and insightful observations about relationships from the male perspective.Hornby is clearly a highly gifted writer, but the real strength of "High Fidelity" lies in what he is saying, not how he is saying it. The book takes a unique approach to storytelling, basically arranging the narrative with the use of a list of the main character's five most hurtful breakups. Though this would be a little repetitive and dry if the entire book were organized like that, thankfully Hornby moves away from that device before it goes stale. Another reason that this book was a joy to read was that the characters felt real. The main character was not all that nice, and in fact could be downright spiteful at times, but instead of hating him, I found myself drawn more into the story because of his flaws. Readers looking for some kind of adventure or meaningful story should probably find something else to read, but the plot is highly entertaining regardless.This book manages to excel in a genre mostly dominated by female authors/characters, and will provide readers with plenty of laughs.Highly recommended
    Icy-chill More than 1 year ago
    In, High Fidelity, we the readers get to live the life of Rob, a record store owner who lives in shame and denial over the many failed relationships of his past. Right from the first page he begins to list his 5 most memorable failed relationships, beginning from when he was eleven years old. A great part about the novel is that anyone can connect with his story since we all have had some troubles in the past. Also, he may be a middle-age man, but he can act like a child at times. He has a child-like obsession with music, and does not seem to business-like in owning his store. Throughout the novel it is easy for the reader to establish a relationship or feel sympathy for Rob. The ending of the novel is appropriate and leaves the reader feeling fulfilled.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book is perfection. Male or female it's as if someone has been following you since that first kiss on the playground recording every excruciating detail of your love life. Easily identifiable so you can't put it down.
    bragan on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    A 1995 novel about a guy who owns a record shop in London and who, when we first meet him, has just been through a rather painful breakup. Throughout most of the novel, he divides his time between wallowing in self-pity, talking pretentiously but with genuine enthusiasm about music, making pop cultural top five lists, and wallowing in more self-pity.I find it difficult to decide exactly what I think about this book. To begin with, I really disliked the main character. In addition to the whiny self-pity, he's also capable of being a grade-A dick, and every time I started developing some real sympathy for him, he'd turn around and do something unbelievably dickish again. His approach to women and relationships is incredibly self-absorbed and adolescent (although to his credit, he at least kind of realizes this), and while he's showing glimmers of approaching maturity by the very end, I can't quite manage to feel terribly optimistic about his chances for improvement. I also occasionally found myself wondering why he seemed to expect me, or anybody, to actually care about his crappy love life. And yet, there's something about Hornby's writing -- I'm not quite sure what -- that just pulled me along effortlessly and kept me interested, sometimes almost despite myself. There are also, perhaps, some decent insights here about relationships, and there's an impressive feeling of realism to the whole thing. Painful realism, even, especially for a woman who'd like to think that sex and relationships don't ever really look like this from a male POV, but knows in her heart that, at lest to some extent, they can and do.So, while I was reading this, I'd say half of me felt entertained and thoughtful, while the other half was just going "Grrrr" and wanting to smack people. (Not the author, it should be said. He gives the strong impression of having a sense of perspective that his main character lacks. But the protagonist himself, definitely. And very possibly a couple of men I have known personally, as well.) Did I like it? I honestly don't know. But I do know that somehow I feel glad for having read it.
    cinesnail88 on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    This was right up my alley, much as a I thought it would be. It probably helped that I could relate to Rob a lot in some ways, though not in others, really. Hmm, well, good book, Nick Hornby's always game for a good time.
    hunkydory on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    'High Fidelity' is a novel for men. Well, it seems to connect directly to a few men I know, myself included especially. It can be read and enjoyed by women of course, but for them it may become more of a manual, or an explanation of male thoughts, concepts and the way they deal with things.From sex to music to lists to relationships. It uses the main character, Rob Fleming, as a tool to create this vision of a male torn between deciding on a grown up job, relations with his exes and his current (well as current as it gets) girlfriend and his thoughts on music, lists and so on. So many times within this book did I find myself agreeing, understanding or thinking that was me exactly, I began to wonder whether I was making up this story as a vision of my own conscience and minset. My girlfriend has watched it and began to understand exactly how I think.It also propelled my inspiration to open a record store with my best mate, so I can definitely say it has been a positive influence upon my life so far!Altogether, an amazing read with hilarious, true and sweet moments littered on every page.
    CodenameEvan on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    So, I loves me some High Fidelity. The movie that is. I watch it religiously every six months or so, and naturally gravitated to the book, which I really liked as well. It was good times, and Nick Hornby is a really good author. He's no Faulkner or Thoreau, but he writes some great pop fiction, which is exactly what this book is. If you want a book you can knock out over a long weekend and just plain old have fun with, well here you go.
    Judy58 on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    While as a 59-year old woman I'm really not the audience for this book, I enjoyed its story of a odd 35-year old man and his struggles to find happiness. In the end, I found it an easy read and enjoyable experience.
    manque on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    A long rant, without substance. Okay, without much substance. The antihero/narrator plays no role in his own rescue (from himself); he simply allows things to happen to him, rather than taking any direct action of his own. American readers will also find that the novel is bogged down with Brit-speak slang and late seventies/early eighties cultural references that are often specific to England. Although not particularly offensive, the novel lacks insight and drama. In the end it's only mildly entertaining, although also a quick and easy read.One of those rare cases where the film is better than the book (also see Like Water for Chocolate).
    Othemts on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    Even though this book has been adapted into two different movies that make it out as a love triangle among man, woman, and the sport he's obsessed with, this book is not a novel. It's a memoir about soccer in the same way that Rocky is about boxing or Jaws is about a shark. Hornby uses memories of his beloved Gunners matches as a launching point to tell stories of his life, his obsession, and worldview. He also examines English culture and sporting life as it changes over the course of his life. A funny and insightful memoirs, this book is NOT just for sports' fans.
    elenchus on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    I'd seen the movie, and heard great things about both Hornby overall, and High Fidelity specifically. In reading, I realised (a) I read it before, or at least I'm pretty confident I have; (b) it's a breezy read, but not one that left me feeling I'd wasted my time; (c) there are far fewer "lists of songs" or "mix tapes" than I'd been led to believe, and in the end, I think that is a good thing; (d) Hornby is good at not only a "devastating one-liner" but also at observing life and people.
    jakeamoore on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    The brilliance of High Fidelity is in its complex treatment of the male mind. You get inside of Rob's head from the very beginning, from his top five lists, to his job, you feel a part of everything he is and by proxy his mind. You feel his loss, his love, and his amazing record collection in every page. Great read.
    IWantToBelieve on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    Ugh. Neurotic, whiny, wuss of a main character. I did not care about him or his self-imposed problems. I was so glad when this book ended.
    KLmesoftly on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    High Fidelity is one of those rare cases, in my opinion, that a book and movie compliment each other perfectly. The novel is the story of a man who is basically a complete jerk, bitter and cynical, and his amusing obsession with pop music and his difficulties in love. If you've seen the movie, you'll note that John Cusack's Rob is much more likeable and sympathetic than the protagonist of the novel. Still, I'm a fan of both. There's something to be said about novels where the reader is set up to have almost no sympathy for the narrator/main character--my detachment made me view the story in a different light than I had while watching the film (one of my favorites). I highly recommend both this book and its onscreen adaptation. Both are amusing and quotable, and leave one with a lot to think about.
    melydia on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    It's rare that I pick up a book based on its movie, but this time I did. I really enjoyed John Cusack as Rob, though I'd heard that Hornby had been surprised at the quality of the film, since to him the book was very much about living in London and yet the story was almost seamlessly transplanted to Chicago for the movie. Anyway, this book is brilliant. It's the story of Rob, a thirty-something owner of a semi-failing record shop, and his life after his girlfriend leaves him. Rob is obsessed with music, top five everything, his past, and himself in general. His manner of narrating is at once painfully honest and absolutely hilarious, and I laughed out loud on several occasions. The time flew by whenever I was reading. I'll definitely be looking up other Hornby books in the future.
    thelittlereader on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    definitely not the type of book i would recommend to just anyone, but it was a good take on pop culture obsession and relationships. if you can't relate to infatuations with musicians and record store binges, you may miss a lot of the significance of what hornby writes, but i rather liked the references and musician babble. the love story behind is well conceived and entertaining, and much more honest than i was expecting. hornby definitely spills a load of secrets that the typical man would leave upspoken.
    crochetbunnii on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Nick Hornby provided some great insight into the insecurity in relationships and of getting older. I found myself relating to Rob a little more than I would have liked.The humor is also great in this book. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and then had to try and explain it to my boyfriend. He didn't appreciate it as much as I did.I was a little ashamed that I didn't get many of the musical references. I consider myself a connoisseur of off the wall music, but it must be the time gap from the late 80s-early 90s to now.I highly recommend this book!
    sweetie_candykim on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    I liked this book at the beginning. It is witty, dry and quite modern. The first half of the book kept me interested as it was mainly actions. However the second half went downhill. For example it goes on for too long about themes and thoughts. The character realised he was scared about death, however, this was talked about for pages and I didn't feel as though it did anything to advance the plot. There are many of these relevations throughout the book, however I feel like they are contradicted too. Like the charcter will then say in another chapter, it is stupid to worry about death however, there will be another relevation further on in the plot which he then realises he is scared about death.Another thing is conversations hard to follow. I got lost many times to whicg character was saying which thing, and even after rereading it, I still was not sure. For example:Character a spokethen baabCharacter a would speak twice without the use of ... or a sentance inbetween, or something about the character. The main character was also a hypocrite so I lost sympathy quickly. I felt sorry in the first instance, but when I learnt what he had done, it changed my opinion. It is also very irritating when throught the book it concentrates on his feelings about Laura sleeping with Ray, when he doesn't seem to batter an eyelid about Marie.This is also annoying later, when he meets Caroline and 'falls in love' instantly. This chapter is also another example of when the plot seemed to resolve and went back to square one.I like the way the book was written in the first half. I like the way the facts and storyline was revealed, to the point for example 'Then I slept with her'. This made it quick and witty. I also liked the way at the beginning, the facts were revealed at different times. I felt sorry for Rob, then new info was revealed and thought he was a twat. However, as I mentioned earlier, the second half just seemed to go on. Lots of times had to reread paragraphs because they just seemed to babble on with no real meaning.Altogether, it has a nice ending. However, I felt the ending was resolved before there was another twist, which I just thought I hope that doesn't happen and it doesn't need any more plot twists.
    AlaricBond on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    My introduction to Hornby, following a recommendation (from my bookseller!), and I was not disappointed. The well remembered "trials" of an emerging man are well portrayed against the background of popular music.
    kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    I read this back when it first came out and remembered it fondly as being funny and smart and true in a completely unpretentious way. Reading it again 15 years later (can you believe it's 15 years later?) I found it to be just as enjoyable.Rob is a wonderfully written character who embodies all the foibles of every record and list obsessed man you've ever dated. He's the guy with the most obscure stuff ever who catalogs his record collection by artist and then in chronological order. He catalogs his CD collection that way, too, but vinyl is his purest love.There are bits and pieces of this that feel a little dated - the onrush of technology may make some readers think, "Cassette tapes?" Still and all the book mostly reads fresh and definitely still reads funny in a wonderfully whimsical and endearing way.
    readingwithtea on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    High Fidelity is one of those cult classics, an iconic book of the 90s - something a person with their finger on the pulse of modern culture can speak about with authority.I found it dreary, overcooked and generally mediocre.Hornby clearly wants to channel "the man on the street", chronicling the life of an unsuccessful record shop owner and his past loves. And it is dull, depressing and not humorous. I found the character deeply flawed, with little to admire and sympathise with. Other characters were easier to sympathise with, but only due to the protagonist's treatment of them.I found the humour irritating (although well-suited to the protagonist) and the observations on life and love trite.Not one I would recommend - unless I was asked to make a recommendation to someone as odious as the protagonist!
    MColv9890 on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    I hate to use coarse language, but this review may contain a few slips here and there I ask you to please bear with me. I had high expectations. This book was supposed to be a view into the male persona, into the masculine mind. However, this main character is very far from what I've ever heard of being considered masculine. He whines and cries and moans. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I doubt it. I'm 22 years old. This is no reflection upon the author, he writes well. The character that he deemed worthy of our attention does not seem genuine to me. Perhaps it is the British tinge, but once again I'm doubting it. I only have the simple opinion that this is not a very good insight into the masculine mind. He's really just a wimp. I guess I've avoided the coarse language promised. I will say this though, the music mentioned in this book is well worth checking out. Heck, it's well worth making a playlist of the songs mentioned. However, do not confuse a good taste in music with a good character. If this book shows anything it shows that an excellent taste in music is neither directly related or influential in the development of a good character; I'm not talking about the author's usage, but the character himself. If Rob was my friend, I wouldn't like him one bit. If he came to me with his problems I'd probably ignore him.
    lifeafterjane on LibraryThing 4 months ago
    Being unceremoniously dumped isn't something new to Rob; women have been leaving him for years. His most recent, live in girlfriend Laura has just left him for the guy in the flat above him prompting a bout of self exploration and self pity that leads him to confront the women of his relationship past. What he discovers is not only is he a bit of a run of the mill, self absorbed commitment-phobe, he's also apparently a really unhappy, thirty something, wallower whose life didn't really turn out in any way like he expected. What is possibly most horribly depressing is just how relevant Rob's story is. Rob runs a failing record shop that might go days on end without any buyers. All of his friends have moved on with their lives and Rob has found himself the victim of having very little personal human interaction outside of his relationships with women. A good long look at his past relationships, and his actions or rather inactions that have landed him in the state he's in have him firmly convinced that if his younger self could see him now, he'd probably dump him too. Rob has some very spot on insights into human nature, and how we act in relationships that could possibly make him likable if he'd get out of his own way. His problem was the same problem we all suffer from in that he could see and recognize these traits, he just couldn't apply them to his own life. Rob and I didn't get on well at all. Quite possibly because Rob wouldn't get on with it. The entire book was riddled with Rob's own sense that he was living a rather meandering existence and yet even at the end I didn't get the feel that he was going to do anything else other than just flounder. I never witnessed any life changing affirmations or statements of intent to move on with his life. The events that could be construed as progress weren't even brought about by him, they were Laura's doing and he continued to be reliant on a relationship. Meh. Excellent writing. Very witty, and Rob's brooding can be rather endearing if you can stomach all the poor me. I still prefer the movie because well...John Cusack.