Monday, October 05, 2009

Juliet, Naked - Not Just for the Hornby Obsessed

Finished Juliet, Naked late Friday night, with a decelerating rush. I was getting to the end reluctantly, sometimes flipping 10-15 pages back to slow down my finish. For all of the lukewarm and lackluster reviews, Nick Hornby's latest came through strong, clear, kind but not maudlin, and, IMHO, highly recommended. It's been compared to his High Fidelity, a comparison that seems stretched. The exuberance and the self-deluded assuredness of righteousness of youth has given way to the late middle-aged acceptance of doubt and acceptance. It is beautifully crafted and chock full of Hornby bits, those quippy sentences sure to come up in your conversation later on.
It is a story of obsession based on minuteness and the instability of credos one may build one's life on. It's a novel of life's goals too quickly realized with fall from grace being more a slow skid to mediocrity than a bang of a thud re-enforcing the height.
As is his usual, Mr. Hornby spends little ink developing or describing the lay of the land; it's the characters that drive the story and it's the dialogue that has you re-reading passages. He is, as usual, delicious. He is, as expected, aging well into another stage in his life.

(Just a side-note, I think Janet Maslin's review of Mr. Hornby's book is pretty much dead on. She's a reviewer with a soft heart for odd and interesting character-based books as evidenced by this review of Tim Pages' Parallel Play.

Note Bene: Funny, this. In "Juliet, Naked", one of the main characters is passionately involved with a blog which is centered around another of the main characters. At various times, there are mainly 15 people who are participating/commenting on that blog. Mr. Hornby, although having a blog of his own (mainly intended as a promotional device), makes it clear through the voices of 2 of the 3 main characters that he's not a real fan of blogging nor of the Internet and, out of left field here, nor of accountants.
Punch in "Juliet, Naked" and you'll have 1,510,000 Google entries/queries. Who's the lion? Who's the tamer?

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