High Fidelity

High Fidelity

Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups?Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn't on it - even though she's just become his latest ex. He's got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behaves as if Laura nev...

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Title:High Fidelity
Author:Nick Hornby
Rating:
Edition Language:English

High Fidelity Reviews

  • Rick Monkey

    I realize that I give far too many books a four or five star rating. So sue me.

    Book buying isn't, you know, a quick thing for me. I browse, I choose, I read the blurbs inside, I deliberate, I read a chapter from ever book I've chosen.

    In short, I only read things I'm really likely to like.

    So, I will tell you right now, if there were a way to give [High Fidelity]

    stars, I would.

    Ostensibly it's a novel about pop music and love. But if that's what you're seeing, then you are reading it wrong.

    It'

    I realize that I give far too many books a four or five star rating. So sue me.

    Book buying isn't, you know, a quick thing for me. I browse, I choose, I read the blurbs inside, I deliberate, I read a chapter from ever book I've chosen.

    In short, I only read things I'm really likely to like.

    So, I will tell you right now, if there were a way to give [High Fidelity]

    stars, I would.

    Ostensibly it's a novel about pop music and love. But if that's what you're seeing, then you are reading it wrong.

    It's a novel about obsession, rejection and minutia. As such, [Nick Hornby] speaks directly to my geeky soul. Even though I'm not a music expert, I see a lot of myself in the main character Rob - escaping into pop, defining his life through records, filling his head with facts rather than feelings and trying, oh so desperately trying, to be a real human being.

    His relationships never last. If he's not outright rejected, then

    the one who gets full of himself and does the rejecting. He's not good with people, doesn't want to be, ultimately can't be. But he aches for them. He's a loner who can't bear to be alone. He pushes people away, but wonders why there aren't any people around.

    Every word in [High Fidelity] felt familiar, even with a location (London) and a milieu (music fandom) that are unfamiliar to me. Somehow, Hornby strikes this strange, compelling balance between being incredibly witty on the surface, and being incredibly depressing beneath.

    Swap out records for comics or videogames, and I

    Rob. If you're a geek, and a male, and a member of these recent lost generations of "slackers" and "man-children", then you are Rob, too.

  • Joe Valdez

    We all have a handful of books that we feel were written specifically for us, as if the author took us out for dinner and drinks (lots of drinks, on the author's tab) and interviewed us on the important things (in no particular order, except the order in which I thought of these): love, faith, art, sex, career, family, friends. Then they put our thoughts and feelings in a book.

    by Nick Hornby is one of those books for me, the account of a young man reorganizing his disappointments

    We all have a handful of books that we feel were written specifically for us, as if the author took us out for dinner and drinks (lots of drinks, on the author's tab) and interviewed us on the important things (in no particular order, except the order in which I thought of these): love, faith, art, sex, career, family, friends. Then they put our thoughts and feelings in a book.

    by Nick Hornby is one of those books for me, the account of a young man reorganizing his disappointments and his record collection following a rough break-up. I'm not the narrator and he's not me, but often wish life could be cataloged as clearly as my music.

    Published in 1995, Hornby's debut novel is the stoic, immature and unapologetic first-person account of Rob Fleming, a thirty-five-year-old who lives in a one-bedroom flat in the North London neighborhood of Crouch End. Rob owns a record shop called Championship Vinyl which specializes in

    . His two employees and perhaps best friends-- the shy, awkward Dick and the loud, obnoxious Barry--pass the work day thinking and talking in lists: top five Dustin Hoffman films, top five Gerry and Sylvia Anderson shows, top five sweets that come in jars, etc.

    For us readers only, Rob categorizes his all-time, top five most memorable split-ups. He was 12 or 13 when Alison Ashworth ended their six-hour courtship for another boy. The following year, he broke off a three-month relationship with Penny Hardwick, a nice girl who rebuffed Rob's hormonal advances and as soon as he dumped her, devastated him by having sex with one of Rob's classmates. He was 17 when he pried away Jackie Allen from her perfect relationship for three weeks. The one he never got over was Charlie Nicholson, a college lover of two years whose beauty and airs intimidated him until she ended things. Rob found a kindred spirit at age 25 named Sarah Kendrew and stayed with her for two years out of loneliness until she met someone. The decision of his girlfriend Laura Lydon to move out doesn't make the list, apparently.

    work

    Newly single, Rob throws himself into a reorganization of his record collection (switching from alphabetical to autobiographical, filing his one-thousand album collection in the order he purchased them in). Dick and Barry drag him to a club to hear an American folk singer named Marie LaSalle, as lost and single in London as Rob is in his own neighborhood; Rob develops a crush on Marie that goes unrequited only so long. He touches base with Liz, a mutual friend of Laura's, and learns that his ex has moved in with Ian, their obnoxious former neighbor. In her talks with Laura, though, Liz has learned things about Rob that places him firmly in the "arsehole" category.

    Rob's lists help him through his breakup with Laura in one way, at least. He endeavors to contact each of his all-time top five most memorable split-ups to find closure. Maybe people can change: Dick stuns everyone by meeting an adorable young woman named Anna Moss, while Barry's musical delusions are answered when his seeking-work ad is finally answered and he becomes the front man of Sonic Death Monkey (née Barrytown). Distraught when he pesters Laura into admitting that she's had sex with Ian, Rob ends up on the invitation list for her father's funeral. Reconciliation seems likely, but the common denominator in all Rob's failures is still staring at him.

    Rob Fleming is not the ideal man you'd want to take a phone call from, hang out with and best of luck if you fell in love with him. But he is a real person and someone I know well. I'd like to think Rob is the sort of non-alcoholic, non-druggie, smart, witty and immature male in his mid-twenties to mid-thirties, "keeping my options open," terrified of commitment and embittered of opportunities that always seem to present themselves to other people, but in reality, his self-obsession occurs across age and even across gender. The chief reason to read the novel is Nick Hornby's exceedingly good taste in records, books and films and his wonderful ear for dialogue (and monologue).

    city,

    country,

    Broadcast News

    Sleepless In Seattle

    The Philadelphia Story

    Rhoda

    This paragraph is nearly verbatim from my dinner interview with the author.

    It's my thesis that the majority of authors are married or have been with their current partners for over ten years. I'd add that a lot of authors regardless of status are simply not comfortable with being brutally honest about dating. Nick Hornby is and so is

    , which is honest, tough, funny, sensitive. Adapted to film in 2000, the screenplay by D.V. DeVincentis & Steve Pink & John Cusack relocated the story to Chicago but kept much of Hornby's dialogue intact. Though one of my favorite comedies, the "romance" is really between Rob (John Cusack) and Barry (

    ), not Rob and Laura (Iben Hjejle). The music and supporting cast (Todd Louiso as Dick,

    , Lisa Bonet as Marie LaSalle, Tim Robbins as Ian, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Charlie, Lili Taylor as Sarah and Bruce Springsteen as himself) are peerless.

  • Lisa Findley

    Top Five Reasons to Read This Book:

    1) Offers multiple opportunities to fall off your chair laughing.

    2) Draws entirely convincing characters making stupid decisions and dealing with the repercussions.

    3) Reminds you of all sorts of artists you must check out further.

    4) Answers the "what if" questions of past relationships with horrifying clarity.

    5) Satirizes but ultimately validates top-five lists.

  • Jenn(ifer)

    I have a problem.

    You see, when it comes to reviewing my favorite books, I’m all thumbs. Coherent thoughts elude me and float downstream like a toy boat escaping from a little boy’s grasp.

    Rob is my soul mate, you see. He and I are the same fucked up, insecure, too-much-in-our-own-head-for-our-own-good person. I think he would get me. Really Get me.

    Or maybe it's just Hornby who gets me. Mr. Hornby, you make me want to wear dresses.

    During my last year of high school and through all four years of c

    I have a problem.

    You see, when it comes to reviewing my favorite books, I’m all thumbs. Coherent thoughts elude me and float downstream like a toy boat escaping from a little boy’s grasp.

    Rob is my soul mate, you see. He and I are the same fucked up, insecure, too-much-in-our-own-head-for-our-own-good person. I think he would get me. Really Get me.

    Or maybe it's just Hornby who gets me. Mr. Hornby, you make me want to wear dresses.

    During my last year of high school and through all four years of college, I too worked in a record store with a bunch of misfit music snobs. It was the BEST JOB EVER. Hands down. Sitting around all day, listening to the new batch of promos, poking fun at the customers coming in looking for a little Ace of Base... making mix tapes for that boy who worked in the skate shop who I had a crush on. I never gave him any of them. Shyness is nice, but shyness can stop you... That’s Morrissey, not me. But I feel you fella.

    Anyway, you can see how I’m completely flubbing this review, right? Hornby has my number.

    My favorite ice breaker with people I don’t know well is to ask them to give me their top 5 (insert topic here (usually related to music)).

    Top 5 female singers of all time, GO!

    Oh, and since this review wouldn't be complete without a top 5 list of my own, here is my list of the "top 5 songs referenced in top 5 lists in this novel" (obscure enough for you?):

    1. Tired of Being Alone -

    2. Alison -

    3. Lets Get it On -

    4. Mr. Big Stuff -

    5. The House That Jack Built -

  • Samadrita

    is several things at once.

    It is a specimen of guylit (I just invented the term yes) - romance and single life explained from the point of view of a man. And we have so few of those.

    It is a humorous reflection on life and its many failings.

    And lastly, it is the tale of a Brit singleton in his mid thirties who is unrelentingly firm in his reluctance to grow into a man.

    A man who is so caught up in his fantasies of the ultimate love one is destined to end up with, that he ignores the

    is several things at once.

    It is a specimen of guylit (I just invented the term yes) - romance and single life explained from the point of view of a man. And we have so few of those.

    It is a humorous reflection on life and its many failings.

    And lastly, it is the tale of a Brit singleton in his mid thirties who is unrelentingly firm in his reluctance to grow into a man.

    A man who is so caught up in his fantasies of the ultimate love one is destined to end up with, that he ignores the woman who truly cares for him and consequently ends up losing her.

    So the novel begins with our protagonist, Rob Fleming, listing the 5 major break-ups of his life which either hurt him too much or ended up changing him as a person for good. And he takes vicious pleasure in informing the reader that Laura, the woman who just left him, doesn't make the top 5, doesn't even come close.

    How could you not get sucked into a book which begins on such a promising note?

    An owner of a dingy vinyl record shop named Championship Vinyl, Rob and his two employee-cum-sidekicks Dick and Barry stumble through the maze of life, more often than not clueless about what they are doing.

    They debate merits and demerits of obscure bands and music artists and are generous in their display of disdain for the ones who love their Beatles, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Elton John and the usuals. And these hilarious conversations centering around mundane things like tv shows, movies, music and women lend the plot much of its frivolity and humour. Especially Barry, who is described by Rob as a

    , makes you laugh uncontrollably with his habit of belittling everything, his sneaky tactics of selling records of artists no one has heard of and his interactions with Dick.

    And so the plot meanders through the zigzagging life of Rob, touches briefly upon the lives of all the women with whom he had been in love at some point of time and settles on his on-and-off relationship with Laura.

    comes as close to portraying single life and romance as it actually is and not in the larger-than-life Hollywood rom-comish way. It talks about the things we all do in relationships - how we decide how much to reveal to the other person. How our feelings for a person waver time and again and how we often falter, unable to decide what we want. How we hurt the other person in the process. How we realize how precious a relationship was only after it has ended. And more importantly how we are ever afraid of making that feared transformation - be it from girl to woman or boy to man.

    Nick Hornby's debut novel is a charming creation - it is like a music record by an artist you may not have heard of but you can relate to the music, nonetheless.

    And you can't help but want to play the record all over again.

  • Agnieszka

    Rob runs a record store in London, has two weird sidekicks, creates silly top-five lists of everything and his girlfriend Laura has just finished with him. What more could I say about him ? Well, Rob is thirty-five selfish asshole, pompous snob and a pathetic, emotionally immature loser. But I still like him .

    Do not worry, I will not treat you now with a tearful story about my ex, though I will tell you about a guy who, if I ever had compiled, in imitation of Rob,

    Rob runs a record store in London, has two weird sidekicks, creates silly top-five lists of everything and his girlfriend Laura has just finished with him. What more could I say about him ? Well, Rob is thirty-five selfish asshole, pompous snob and a pathetic, emotionally immature loser. But I still like him .

    Do not worry, I will not treat you now with a tearful story about my ex, though I will tell you about a guy who, if I ever had compiled, in imitation of Rob, list of the most memorable and painful partings in my life, would have taken not only the first place. Actually he would take the whole podium. Piotr, do not let him remain nameless, after all the winner takes it all, so, Piotr was nice and sensitive guy, somehow wonderfully shy and helpless. He was a guy because of whom when we split-up

    .

    Who said that? Oh, shut up ! My older and more cynical self, I'm not in the mood to listen to you today.

    We were wandering around the streets, by whole hours listening to the music, discussing books . Nothing special.

    I do not remember if Piotr loved The Smiths, certainly we listened to The Clash, jazz, a bit of blues. Piotr run a record store but nowadays works on the radio, sometimes I come across on his programme and ... it's always nice to hear his voice. Oddly enough, I never thought then he had a radio voice. And really he had .

    But let's get back to Rob. Hornby created a bitter - sweet, ironic portrait of lonely and scared man. Rob is a guy with simple solution for everything, with justification for any situation. He is like a kid who believes that life is a movie in which all the others play supporting roles. But because life is neither pop charts nor listeners choice you seldom get what you think you deserve .

    Hornby's observations are accurate and witty, spiced with wry humour, and even when Rob feels miserable and has a hard time - this is not any existential drama. And when he finally states that even people with, in his opinion, trashy collection of records, are ok, there is a hope for him yet.

  • Matthew

    Ah, nostalgia! This book takes place in the mid-90s. Even though the protagonist is in his 30s, the content really does take me back to my time in high school and college. Everything was music and concerts – and a lot of the music he talks about is the music everyone was into back then. Also, I was a huge fan of the movie when it first came out, but this was my first time reading it.

    In some ways, Rob reminds me of myself back then: insecure, paranoid, over reactive, etc. I would think a girl was

    Ah, nostalgia! This book takes place in the mid-90s. Even though the protagonist is in his 30s, the content really does take me back to my time in high school and college. Everything was music and concerts – and a lot of the music he talks about is the music everyone was into back then. Also, I was a huge fan of the movie when it first came out, but this was my first time reading it.

    In some ways, Rob reminds me of myself back then: insecure, paranoid, over reactive, etc. I would think a girl was interested in me and call the over and over thinking that was the best way to win her heart. Then, when it didn’t work, I would drown my sorrows in music . . . until I tried calling again. Now, I will say that Rob definitely goes a bit overboard in his relationships and how he approaches them are toxic. But, it is entertaining watching the trainwreck that is his life.

    I think to enjoy this book you need to be into the writing style; cynical, self-deprecating humor that leaves you wondering if you love all the characters or hate them. I know that this will not be everyone’s cup of tea (ah, a British book, cup of tea, HA! I am here all night, folks!) I have been looking at some other reviews and it seems like a lot of people despise this one. I definitely get that – if this was not set during such an important time of my life and if it didn’t mirror a lot of aspects of my social life at the time, I probably would be too turned off by the frustrating characters and Rob’s basically inappropriate approach to every situation.

    But, nostalgia wins this time – now I have to go back and watch the movie again!

  • Jessica

    This is the only Nick Hornby book I've read, and it seemed like a good introduction to the genre I imagine must be called "dick lit." I read it on a plane to the West Coast, and it was the perfect thing: started at take-off, finished just before landing, this had the perfect proportions of light and engaging for 30,000 feet. Ultimately, I found it sort of silly and empty and I had a hard time choosing between two and three stars, but I thought I'd give it a break here, because even though it was

    This is the only Nick Hornby book I've read, and it seemed like a good introduction to the genre I imagine must be called "dick lit." I read it on a plane to the West Coast, and it was the perfect thing: started at take-off, finished just before landing, this had the perfect proportions of light and engaging for 30,000 feet. Ultimately, I found it sort of silly and empty and I had a hard time choosing between two and three stars, but I thought I'd give it a break here, because even though it wasn't funny like B Jones, it was a lot more culturally accessible (I don't remember what kind of music Ms. J liked, but I'll bet it was bad).

    After all, it's only dick lit, and it served its purpose, which was to preoccupy me while I suffered through the torturous experience of flying in an airplane. I sort of liked the formula, and the idea that the boy version of "fairytale romance" isn't meeting Miss Right and riding away together on a handsome stallion, but instead just finally scraping your shit together enough to act a little bit like a grownup in time to avoid permanently alienating the charming girl who's fed up with your tiresome immaturity. Is that the standard male fantasy? Weird.

  • Joey Woolfardis

    Read as part of

    , based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

    Read as part of

    , based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

    I feel like this book was written as a direct response to

    , though I don't know that for sure and I'm too lazy to check the dates. In any case, it is surely a response to all the Chick-Lit that-at the time, and even now-abounds. And at first I was thinking, "hey, this is just

    but with a Penis", but it isn't. It is

    .

    The same whingeing. The same horribleness toward people the protagonists want to have sex with. The same horribleness toward the people the protagonists have had sex with. The horribleness toward the protagonist's so-called friends. The same self-serving ridiculousness and not wanting anyone else to be happy because they're not happy. The same whingeing, the same arrogance, the same patheticness. Maybe you could say that

    is this but with a Vagina (but then all the whingeing is fine because having stuff coming out of your vagina once a month

    is really, super annoying, though I can't recall Bridget ever whingeing about Vagina-blood at all...)

    Is that the point of these books? To take pathetic people and give them the spotlight because, deep-down, that's all of us? And we never have our voices heard, despite getting drunk every night and shouting our problems out to the night. Are you really like these characters? If you are you should be deeply ashamed and I'm glad you're stuck in a dead-end job and not actually in charge of anything. Stay there, keep your head down, procreate because you don't understand the menstrual cycle or contraception and then die. Please.

    I can't work out if the protagonist-whatever his name is, I've forgotten already-is supposed to be horrible, pathetic, whingeing, annoying, perverse-in short, a complete cunt-or not: is this the anti-hero kind of thing? Where we like him because, oh, he's a bit not "normal" (whatever that is)? Bridget was a cunt, too. I hated them both. Is this what people are actually like? What's wrong with people?

    This isn't Lad-Lit, or Dick-Lit, or whatever manly spin we have on Chick-Lit this week: it's just Chick-Lit. It hasn't even got a Penis, and Chick-Lit doesn't have a Vagina. It's just people being cunts. With no reference to whatever you think "cunt" actually means or the etymology of the word "cunt", anglo-saxon or Norse or whatever. Just the metaphorical sense of a person being a cunt. You know what I mean.

    By the way, I've realised that Love doesn't exist, it's just Fear of being Alone: or it is if you read books like this. I had so many interesting points to make about this book and it was all going to sound like I'd thought long and hard about it, and was making fantastic points and really making you think, and going in to how Love is a construct, and Fear is also a construct so is Love really as unreal as Fear etc but I can't be bothered. I really can't. Why do men have to read this and not read

  • David

    Nick Hornby writes about losers and makes them lovable. But not this time. I couldn't stand the self-pitying little git, his loser wanker record store buddies, nor their ridiculous fracking lists. Reading this book felt like being trapped in an elevator with the pathetic Scrubs douchebag (Zachy McWhinerson, or whatever his fracking name is) for an entire weekend. You know the type - the constant puppy need for the approval of every critter on the planet, all the time. It might seem like a charmi

    Nick Hornby writes about losers and makes them lovable. But not this time. I couldn't stand the self-pitying little git, his loser wanker record store buddies, nor their ridiculous fracking lists. Reading this book felt like being trapped in an elevator with the pathetic Scrubs douchebag (Zachy McWhinerson, or whatever his fracking name is) for an entire weekend. You know the type - the constant puppy need for the approval of every critter on the planet, all the time. It might seem like a charming vulnerability, but don't be fooled. It actually signals a pathological narcissist whose solipsism and incessant neediness will bleed you dry.

    I know, I know. Many fine books have been written about unlikable characters. Anyway, it's about the character's emotional growth. Etc. etc.

    All true. But when you find the central character so annoying that just reading about him makes you twitch, it's probably time to switch to another book.

    Your mileage may vary. For all I know, you're the kind of person who watches marathon "scrubs" reruns. If so, you'll probably love this book.

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