07 February 2010

Juliet, Naked (Nick Hornby)

This is my first post of 2010 and I realise that, dated 7 February, that is not a very prompt start to the year. Nevertheless, it is true to form and, having resolved this year to concentrate solely on just being the most honest version of myself, that seems as good a place as any to start. You may be thinking that a resolution to be the 'most honest version of myself' is merely a license to become even more self-involved and indulgent. And you would be correct.

Now, on to Juliet, Naked. I have mixed feelings about Nick Hornby. High Fidelity made me slightly melancholy and gave me license to listen to music feeling moody and unappreciated; About A Boy renewed my faith in monotonous, happy endings; A Long Way Down allowed me a few chuckles about suicide (silver lining and all that). Whilst all enjoyable, none of these novels have moved me in any particularly earth-shattering way. Having finished one, I move on relatively quickly and I have never been inclined to pick it up for a second reading.

Juliet, Naked inspired the same insipid response in me. I fell a little in love with the character of Tucker, I felt a little of Annie's pain and the ending made me die a little bit inside.

Nothing I won't bounce back from.

I don't think any of these personal reactions are the fault of the author. I have prattled on in the past about authors who I had an adverse reaction to and as a result I have deemed them (in all my wisdom) to be mentally and creatively lacking. I don't think it's fair to lump Hornby in with these ill-deserving sponges who sop up the watery royalties from a reading public whose discernment has been eroded through years of crappy pop-cultural interference. Rather, he is someone who writes about 'real' relationships, focusing on the mildly interesting mid-life crises of men and women who have been vaguely unhappy and/or misunderstood by a myriad of secondary cast members Hornby never fully bothers to inflate to a three-dimensional scale. Actually, that latter point IS something I must take Hornby to task on. If you are going to mention Malcolm and Barnesy IN THE BLURB, (thus elevating their importance in the eyes of the reader) at least attempt to turn them into real characters. If you don't want to dedicate more than a couple of pages to each one, perhaps... you don't need to include them on the back cover.

Minor character development aside, Hornby DOES write very well. As in, he writes inoffensively. He has a good grasp of grammar, a reasonable vocabulary etc. Does he string a sentence together so that it sings? No. But that is irrelevant. He writes middle of the road fiction about middle of the road emotions perfectly adequately. It's just not quite desperate or dramatic enough to move me to any great excitement whenever I pick up one of his novels. For those of you out there who live on a more sensible plain, he is probably the breath of fresh air you need during your battle against the incessant troops of Disney soldiers pounding on the doors of your energy-efficient castle in the Land of Relentless Realists. However, if that is you, don't make contact. You don't sound overly interesting.

Rating: 7/10.
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