Okaaay…. this could be long, and like my review of A World Out of Time, could be as much about me and my life as the book itself.
Could be, but let’s try to rein it in shall we?
I first read High Fidelity when it came out in 1995. I’ve re-read it a couple of times since but probably not for 10 years or so. I decided to re-read it as part of 6000 pages because I wanted both an easy read and an enjoyable one. The film of the book starring John Cusack is also a favourite of mine and I re-watched it after reading the book.
High Fidelity follows Rob Flemming, a 35-year-old music fan, owner of a failing record shop and something of a slacker. The book begins with the ending of his latest long-term relationship and much of the story is about the relationship between music, fandom and well, relationships.
Do I listen to pop music because I’m miserable or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?
The genius of High Fidelity – and it is genius – is that it perfectly captures what it’s like to be a boy in a man’s body, which is certainly my experience of being male. The incessant making of lists, the obsession with sex as the most important part of a relationship (but not really) and just all this inner insecurity.
15 years ago when I first read it I identified with Rob because of all this stuff – even though he was only temporarily out of a relationship and I was more or less permanently so – the theme of being generally rubbish with women fitted. The fact that I still experience this all these years later – well that’s perhaps the bittersweet side of re-reading this book.
It’d be very easy to just give lots of funny, touching or on-the-nose quotes – and in a way that might be appropriate as it’s the kind of thing Rob would do. However to sum up let me just say that I love this book because it’s not only very easy to identify with the characters but Hornby also makes them likeable, despite some not so likeable behaviour on the way. It has warmth and hope and optimism.
10/10 – a great book if you’re a boy.