“High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby
Rob, the hero of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” is a regular guy who runs a downtrodden record store. His sales aren’t great, and his two employees are a pushy wannabe singer and a music snob with an encyclopedic knowledge of every record in the store and then some. Rob’s a little stunted in the maturity department, kind of self-centered, and has a tendency to rank life events and people in top five lists. The most recent list is a list of his top five break-ups, angrily spurred by a break-up with Laura – probably the love of his life and the girl of his dreams. After making this list, he decides to track down the five women who’ve topped his list to see whatever became of them. Some have done pretty well for themselves, some not so much. Along the way, Rob also has a brief relationship with an American singer and reconnects with Laura, while his two employees find love and music in unexpected places.
Life doesn’t always go the way we think it’s going to. Not everyone can be a rock star. Nick Hornby understands his concept fully, and weaves a tale of 30somethings figuring it out that’s constantly interesting and largely funny. “High Fidelity” had me smiling the whole time I was reading it. (I’ll probably be quoting “Kettle Chips! F%$k off!” for years.)
The book seems like an obvious choice for movie adaptation, so it should come as no surprise that it’s the book the John Cusack/Jack Black movie was based off.
Which I’ve never seen – don’t hit me.
Also, an attempt was made to take this novel to the Broadway musical stage. The adaptation and the Broadway parts happened, but the show flopped – for a variety of reasons. Some said the score wasn’t interesting enough (I have the recording, but really only like the opening number), and many reviewcommented that a musical – to be successful – has to have a main character who wants to make a change, whereas Rob is pretty content where he is for much of the book. Yet, the musical’s Broadway production starred the charming-as-can-be Will Chase, who appears in the weird little music video for the show below. See for yourself.