High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Life goes on ... to the track of a mix tape. 

The book in one sentence: A 30-something man reflects on life and love ... through mix tapes and his  record collection.

My thoughts:  I did a Friday 56 about this book ages ago. And if you judge it by the quote above, you're probably thinking this isn't my sort of thing (or yours for that matter - I got all manner of ewws in the Friday 56...). I wasn't expecting to like this book because I knew it was blatantly a "guy" book. In fact one of the reviews mentioned it being a "male confessional." But I absolutely loved and laughed throughout this one. It's not only funny but extremely witty and insightful of the male perspective.
Now mix tapes. I remember how these were all the rage back in high school. And vinyl was the penultimate in cool. CDs and DVDs were unheard of (oh God, this post is absolutely dating me). Anyway, the entire book is about the state of a 30-something guy's record collection vis-a-vis the state of his love life.

Rob Fleming breaks up with his girlfriend Laura and he deteriorates into a bundle of mush as he tries to figure out how to get her back. (Never mind that he was total asshole.) He goes into a male mid-life crisis of sorts as he tries to figure out what exactly lead to this break-up, and he deteriorates further by trying to psychoanalyze all his past girlfriends in his Top 5 Most Memorable Split-ups - turning creepy by tracking them all down and having "the talk" with them. He tries to find closure in each of these relationships, but they only highlight just how much he loves Laura and just how miserable he is without her. Cutting to the chase, Rob only realizes that he is just too self-absorbed to realize that he was happy in the first place.

The whole book is littered with Top 5 lists - mostly related to music - because Rob is a bit of a record snob. After all he owns his own little record store called Champion Vinyl. So if you love music, definitely this is up your alley! Here you go:
  • Rob's Top 5 Subtitled Films
  • Rob's Top Five Films
  • Rob's Top Five Elvis Costello Songs 
  • Rob's Five Best Side One Track One
  • Rob's Top Five Bands or Musicians Who Will Have To Be Shot Come the Musical Revolution
  • among others ...
This is a love story told from the male lens. It's refreshing and tender and heartbreaking altogether. I love Rob's character - the loser who isn't. I also love his chemistry with Laura. And Laura, she's a wonderfully strong female character who has a lovable quirkiness and an edge to her. The ups and downs of their relationship is very relatable, and getting the "he said-she said" of it all is to say the least, entertaining.

There's also an interesting side-story of Rob's friendship with his two employees Dick and Barry. Again, an insight into male friendships - which is wrought with non-emotional non-conversation, a multitude of lists, lots of loud bodily noises and few lewd jokes thrown in for extra measure.

And finally, that title. The witty double entrendre (no sexual connotations) = High fidelity - records and High fidelity - in love is the clincher.

First line: My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order: 1. Alison Ashworth 2. Penny Hardwick 3. Jackie Allen 4. Charlie Nicholson 5. Sarah Kendrew.

Verdict: The equivalent of man lit (versus chick lit), which chicks will like too. A love story that will remind you that your man is only human after all.

Oh: Don't forget to check out the movie with John Cusack - the movie as good as the book, in my opinion!

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall