Sunday, May 27, 2012
Sunday Rambles: Of Missing Comments, Nick Hornby and Matters of Voice
To prove that I do actually read books, this weekend, I finished my a relisten (audiobook) of Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. I first discovered Nick Hornby through the movie, About a Boy, which led me to track down the book, which led me to A Long Way Down and How To Be Good and his first YA novel, Slam. I have yet to read High Fidelity or his memoir, Fever Pitch, and while I'm aware of the US movie versions of both, I'm going to pass and hold out for the books.
I have my reasons. While there are Americans in some Hornby novels - JJ in A Long Way Down, Tucker from Juliet, Naked - Nick Hornby's voice is such an integral part of these stories that to see things transposed to a different continent and culture would be too much of a paradigm shift. Possibly along the lines of Gilbert Gottfried reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Which ties in with reason two, that, although I do love movies and TV, one of the very few things I like about the summer season is that the dearth of new programming does allow for more reading time.
Nick Hornby is not a romance novelist, though there are some memorable romances in some of his books, and Juliet, Naked, fits that bill. Not a romance, but a love story, and one which covers different sorts of love. Romantic love, successful and not, parental love, love of work (yes, really) and what makes me want to hug the author the hardest, love of fandom. No surprise, as his first work, Fever Pitch, is about his devotion to the Arsenal football team, and while the object of the fannish affection can change, fandom is fandom, and Nick Hornby gets it.
In Juliet, Naked, Duncan's devotion to reclusive former singer-songwriter Tucker Crow eclipses and eventually fractures his devotion to his longtime girlfriend, Annie, whose exception to this leads to her finding her own voice and the man behind the myth. Anyone who's been involved in internet fandom will understand the trolls, the bulletin boards, the fanon and that moment when what 'everybody knows' isn't what really is.
Given that one of my musical interests right now is tracking down acoustic versions of favorite songs, I'd love to be able to play the fictional albums, Juliet (in the story, an iconic 80's rock album) and Juliet, Naked, the acoustic demo version that fractures the fandom and the lives of our protagonists and the artist himself, and judge for myself which version I liked better. My best guess: apples and oranges. Both have their own merits, and when one, as Annie does in the book, goes straight to the source, the truth is somewhere in between. As a writer, I get that.
So. Rambling here, but on a Sunday afternoon, I'm allowed. What about you, faithful readers? Have you read Nick Hornby? What writers' voices ring true to you? Leave a comment, because now you can.