There’s something very special about affirming a love affair with a book. There aren’t many books that I can read over and over again, so to be able to confirm that relationship with a novel or other piece of writing is very gratifying. Jane Eyre, for me, is one of those books. The Shadow of The Wind is another. And High Fidelity has certainly cemented its place on that list.
Both times I’ve read it, it has been exactly the book I needed in my life. It’s a gentle caring reminder that we’re all complete screw ups, each in our own special way, so there’s no need to get so hung up on your own personal failures. It’s the perfect reflection on how, as human beings, we seem to have a species-wide inability to make do anything but mess up relationships. And while it aches, touching all those raw nerves you’d rather leave alone, there’s a sense of joy about it as well, the idea that the living of life and making a mess of it, mixed in with all the short term pleasures that come with messing it up, is actually what it’s all about. It’s the bad times that make the good times AWESOME.
The fact that Nick Hornby doesn’t at any point pretend that there’s anything even vaguely like a Happily Ever After in the real world is incredibly refreshing, and for this particular lass, pretty important. So many pieces of writing and films and songs would have us believe that someday our prince will come and everything will be hunky dory. But what if the person we’re looking for was there all along, and we didn’t see them because we forgot to take off the beer goggles?
There was a paragraph here about how poignant reading this book is at this time in my life, but that’s not something I feel like going into. So here, have a picture of John Cusack explaining my cure for such a thing.
But apart from telling me that I’m not the only one without a decent love life, High Fidelity, naturally, taps into my (not so) inner music nerd. Wallowing in the references, and kicking myself for not having heard certain tracks is truly blissful, in its own geeky way. It also works beautifully as an introduction into classic tunes you may not have heard yet, but knowing how much Rob loves them, you really want to understand why. It's really spurred me on to get a few more classics into my collection.
For those of you who read my last Penguin review, you’ll quickly see how much of a contrast this is to my last read. I truly loved every moment spent reading this one, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hates it. It’s so personal and beautifully self-deprecating (without being depressing) that it just works ridiculously well. I’m proud to call this a personal favourite.
This is one you really do need in your collection.
Have you read it? Did you enjoy it? Did you like the film? (For the record, I watched it just after finishing the book, and it’s just as superb as the novel. I am so in love with John Cusack right now. SO. IN. LOVE.)
And if you’ve not read High Fidelity, or seen the film, this is what John Cusack thinks of you.
Until next time, may your iTunes Shuffle only give you the songs you want to hear.