Sunday, July 5, 2009

High Fidelity

My taste is changing. I'm pretty sure that even five years ago I would have been intrigued and absorbed by Nick Hornby's novel "High Fidelity".

And for good reason.

Hornby's writing is full of vitality. It's often funny, always observant. Sometimes I thought I was reading Bertie Wooster from the inside out, as if Bertie had been transported to the 1990's, had lost Jeeves, and, upon getting kicked out of the Drones Club, had opened a record shop.

So on the level of craft and ingenuity, I enjoyed "High Fidelity".

Unfortunately, I found Rob, its central character, and the consciousness through which the story is told, tiresome.

That was probably the point of much of the story. When a person is so self-absorbed, so devoted to constant shallow self-analysis, so arrested in his development, so obsessed with himself in relation to women, and so filled with unearned cynicism, he's tiresome. That makes, for me, a painful novel.

Reading the observations, remembrances, and thoughts of a man in his mid-thirties whose world view is expressed in lists (five best this, five worst that) and whose endless ruminations about women and relationships are immature and redundant makes for an accurate character study, but a not very compelling novel.

Part of the problem is that very little happens in this novel. Rob goes to work. Rob and Laura break up. Laura's father dies. Rob visits his parents. Dick has a new girlfriend. Rob sleeps with a singer/songwriter. Rob and Laura reunite. After Rob stalks her. Rob revisits a former DJ gig. Rob contacts old girlfriends.

It's not much of a plot, and in this novel, given Hornby's approach, there's not much reason for a plot because most of the action is in Rob's head.

And what's in his head didn't interest me much.

I used to be much more enthralled by books centered around the drama of a character's consciousness and used to think novels that looked at relationships were fascinating, but I think that's changed.

Rob, I'm just not that into you.

Or your thoughts about music.

Or your relationship with music.

Or your taste in music.

Or, above all, the constant chatter in your head about women.

I didn't think your fidelity was all that high, either.

1 comment:

MarmiteToasty said...

I LOVE the main character in many of the Harlen Coben novels.... Im addicted to his books.....

I like sometimes how the same character is in following books and one can really get into the person...