High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Source: purchased from Barnes & Noble
“Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands-literally thousands- of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and i don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.”
– page 25, Riverhead Books, 1995
What if everything was beyond your control? What if everything was done to you, not by you, with you, or for you? What if you lived as a slave to circumstances? Would you have hopes and dreams? Would you be happy, or would you be miserable? If you are Rob, the narrator and main character in High Fidelity then no, you do not have hopes and dreams, you are miserable, and you are also discontent and oftentimes a jerk.
It takes losing his girlfriend for Rob to come to this conclusion, and it takes the entire novel for him to sort out his feelings about this realization. Many who read this book (and who see the American film version) think of this as a story about music, and sex, relationships, and manliness. And it is these things. But thankfully, it is not only these things. In that case, it would only appeal to one audience (men) and that would hardly make it a good novel.
Among many references to pop music, all-time top five lists, and in-his-head narrations and obsessions about situations in Rob’s life (past and present), he takes the reader on an emotional journey of finding who he is, why he really is that way, and who he wants to be. If we are honest readers, I think there is at least a smidgen (more or less for some) of Rob in all of us, regardless of gender. Aside from being clever and funny, this book can give anyone a little thought-check, an assessment of the head space, and bring about an evaluation of how one chooses to react to the circumstances of life.
** I read and reviewed this novel by my own choice and was not asked to do so by the authors or publisher.