Thursday, October 14, 2010

Juliet, Naked - a review for those who read the book

In honour of Nick Hornby, I'm writing this review in point form. As a fan and self-appointed Hornbyologist, I'm convinced he's a list guy. (If you don't believe me, just read "High Fidelity", one of the greatest love novels ever written. Or let's start a website dedicated to all things Nick Hornby, analysing his work word for word and agonising over what made him stop writing novels for ten long years.)

  1. To quote another fan's cyber review: "Obviously there's deep irony in posting a review of a new book by one of my favorite authors when one of the key elements of the book's plot is an adoring fan's online review of a new album..."
  2. Throughout the novel, I kept wondering which characters and situations might be autobiographic. Naturally, Nick Hornby as Tucker Crowe is an obvious first assumption. Might there be more? Let's see...
  3. Hornby is a football fan, possibly also a Cobain fan. Might he see bits of Duncan in himself?
  4. Hornby divorced his first wife. Did he want to go back to her a la Juliet? Did he leave her for a Gina-like lover and regret it Duncan-style?
  5. Hornby's father deserted his family. Does the author identify in part with Grace, Lisa and the twins?
  6. As a stay-at-home father (writers don't work in the City), did he intend the relationship between Tucker and Jackson to reflect.... You get the drift.
  7. "High Fidelity" is all about pain and rejection, full of power and beauty and shards, just like the album "Juliet". Does Hornby feel he over-exploited his inspiration for that novel? Does think himself a fraud?
  8. "Juliet, Naked" the book is just like Tucker Crowe's latest album, full of sitting in the garden being happy. It might not appeal to the fans of the sharp-edged "High Fidelity". It might actually be more beautiful.
  9. In the words of another fan: "Hornby is a rare writer who crafts literary novels for mass audiences. He is proof of an argument he has made about many great recording artists in his music writing - that you can create art of great, lasting value while remaining a crowd-pleaser. In that respect, he doesn't aspire to be Tucker Crowe, prototypical cult artist - he wants to be the Beatles."
  10. Nick, you're welcome to email me your thanks for my perceptive review. I won't ask you to prove it's really you, I'll know you're not Duncan.
P.S. The Internet is a wonderful place. Want to listen to a recording of fictional Tucker Crowe's fictional "You and your perfect life"? Or see the album cover of "Juliet, Naked"? Or hear Nick Hornby on Tucker Crowe? No problem. William Goldman, with his fictional foreword to "The Princess Bride", can eat his heart out.

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