High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”
High Fidelity is a British novel written by Nick Hornby that centers around the midlife crisis of Rob Fleming a struggling record store owner that just lost his long term live-in girlfriend. Rob does what he has always done after a breakup which is lose himself in his own self absorption. He tries rearranging his massive collection of music records which does not bring him the happiness that it normally would. He goes to his shop everyday spends his time talking to his employees, Dick and Barry, about a variety of lists that they have made. For example, top five Cheers episodes, top five movies, top five songs to play on a rainy monday morning and so on.
Why do they make so many lists you might ask. Well, Rob, Dick, and Berry are the types that judge people not based on what they are like but what they like instead. Fortunately for Rob as he is examines his life and sees that he has no meaningful relationships other than with his music collection Rob feels like he needs to figure out why he is alone. To to get at the crux of the issue Rob decides he needs to track down his top five breakups of all time and find out why they left him.
Nick Hornby writes a wonderful coming of age story in his book High Fidelity. What Hornby does that is so different from most is that he tells the story of an adult holding on to nothing so he does not have to take responsibility for his life and through this novel that adult becomes a man and finally realizes that maybe it is not always about what you like that matters but how you live your life.
This is a wonderful book that while I was reading it seemed more like I was listening to a humorous friend tell me their hard luck love life story. Hornby creates a very funny witty story that is chalk full of obscure and not so obscure pop culture. He really hits at the heart of what it is like being an adult that is stuck in a rut of their own doing. It’s a great book to figure out what most guys out there are thinking about and though it was written by a British author it translates well here across the pond. I give it four and half shells out of five.