Nick Hornby was born in 1957. He is the author of five novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award) and Slam; three works of non-fiction, Fever Pitch (winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award), 31 Songs (shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award) and The Complete Polysyllabic Spree; and a Pocket Penguin book of short stories, Otherwise Pandemonium. Nick Hornby lives and works in Highbury, north London.
British journalist Hornby has fashioned a disarming, rueful and sometimes quite funny first novel that is not quite as hip as it wishes to be. The book dramatizes the romantic struggle of Rob Fleming, owner of a vintage record store in London. After his girlfriend, Laura, leaves him for another man, he realizes that he pines not for sexual ecstasy (epitomized by a ``bonkus mirabilis'' in his past) but for the monogamy this cynic has come to think of as a crime. He takes comfort in the company of the clerks at the store, whose bantering compilations of top-five lists (e.g., top five Elvis Costello songs; top-five films) typify the novel's ingratiating saturation in pop culture. Sometimes this can pall: readers may find that Rob's ruminations about listening to the Smiths and the Lemonheads‘pop music helps him fall in love, he tells us‘are more interesting than his list of five favorite episodes of Cheers. Rob takes comfort as well in the company of a touring singer, Marie La Salle, who is unpretentious and ``pretty in that nearly cross-eyed American way''‘but life becomes more complicated when he encounters Laura again. Hornby has earned his own place on the London bestseller lists, and this on-the-edge tale of musical addiction just may climb the charts here. First serial to Esquire. (Sept.)
Rob Fleming is the kind of person whose mindset is clearly shown by his top two career choices: journalist for the New Musical Express, 1976-79, and producer for Atlantic Records, circa 1964-71. Owner of a small London record shop and musical snob of a high degree, Rob finds his life thrown into turmoil when live-in girlfriend Laura suddenly leaves. He embarks on a journey through the past, tracking down old lovers while finding solace with Marie, an American folk/country singer living in London, even as he yearns for Laura's return. Told in an engaging first-person voice that blends sarcasm with self-deprecating humor, High Fidelity presents a painfully funny take on love, music, and growing up. Already a best seller in Britain, this stunningly assured first novel should be a hit here as well.‘Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.