Chicklit (or Ladlit, whatever); ISBN 1573228214; Riverhead Trade.
Let's get the premise out of the way first. This is about a guy, Rob Fleming, who had just been dumped by his girlfriend, Laura. This made him reexamine his past relationships, why they failed, as well as his current life, and what made it suck (well, more or less). Oh, and incidentally, he owns a record shop and, along with his two employees, is a music snob.
Okay, I'll repeat my title: it's basically not about music. The 'love' aspect is not even a major part of the story (notice that Hornby, via Rob, pointedly steers away from the 'love' topic whenever it seems to be heading in that direction).
The book is about how we don't really grow up even as we become grown-ups. Laura had not-so-neatly summed it up when she was ranting about the situation Rob and she were in:
"It's no wonder we're all in such a mess is it? We're like Tom Hanks in Big. Little boys and girls trapped in adult bodies and forced to get on with it. And it's much worse in a real life, because it's not just snogging and bunk beds, is it? There's all of this as well."Or in Rob's own realization:
It's only just beginning to occur to me that it's important to have something going on somewhere, at work or at home, otherwise you're just clinging on... You need as much ballast as possible to stop you from floating away; you need people around you, things going on, otherwise life is like some film where the money ran out... and it's just one bloke on his own staring into the camera with nothing to do and nobody to speak to, and who'd believe in this character then? I've got to get more stuff, more clutter, more detail in here, because at the moment I'm in danger of falling off the edge.Rob's refusal to 'get on with it' , his failure to gather 'detail' in his life, is the crux of the story. Isn't it easy sometimes to just go along with the flow, to only do the most necessary stuff (get money, get a place, food, etc.), to just take everything as it happens to you, not to expect much from others and situations, or yourself? I know I do.
I'm not a fan of chicklits/ladlits but I liked High Fidelity. I related to story more than, say, Confessions of a Shopaholic or anything made for 'chicks' (what does that say about me, dear reader? hahaha). I liked Laura more than Rob and I want to believe I'm more like her than Rob - but knowing myself, I'm just denying things. I'm in a sorta dead-end job, check. I'm now living alone in the city but goes to my parents' house in the suburbs where they occasionally complain about the direction of my life and the state of my singleness, check. I have two people under me that I'm not sure I handle well, check. I even have a collection (of books, not records) that I reorganize during 'times of emotional stress', check. And yeah, I'm that whiny in my head, check. So okay, I'm Rob. But I'm drawing the line on reassessing my past relationships, so I'm stopping right here.
5 out of 5 stars