Friday, February 08, 2008

Book: About A Boy, by Nick Hornby


This appears to be one of those cases where the movie is actually better than the book. I haven't quite decided yet.

So, it's a Nick Hornby book, which, after reading only two, I can already tell means a few certain things. 1. It's pretty good. 2. It's very witty and modern and hip and insightful and all those good things. 3. Mr. Hornby is very aware of just how witty and modern and hip and insightful he and his books are.

Which is a little annoying.

The first half of the book really annoyed me. Apparently very much full of success after High Fidelity, I felt like he was coasting and boasting, pulling out extremely memorable characters, quick turns of phrase, quirky/funny bits, and a Championship Vinyl reference (the record store in High Fidelity). It all worked, but for some reason I just didn't have the patience for all those fireworks. We get it! Everyone loves you! You're a great writer! Whatever!

The second half of the book I liked better. Things get a little more complicated, the characters develop more, I felt less like he was showing off and more like he was telling the story of what happens when all of a sudden, your life begins to change in ways you never, ever expected. I liked that. I also liked the end. It was actually satisfying, not half-heartedly satisfying.

I'm not going into the plot because I assume most everyone knows the plot. It was a great movie, after all. And Hugh Grant was made for the part. I want to see it again.

I know that I liked the movie better than the book. The movie took all the chattiness and extra frippery out, and left the good parts in. It really is a great story. I guess the book seemed a little unnecessarily bloated with good stuff. It was like a birthday cake with too much frosting and decorations, plus doughnuts on top. All good stuff, just too much at once.

Nevertheless, not a waste of time. So if you want a good, fun read, with a little bit of insight, you could do worse.

Now I have to decide which book next. I have How To Be Good, but I might be a little sick of Mr. Hornby. I also have 'Salem's Lot and Sometimes A Great Notion. I may have one other book that I've forgotten about. I want to read Sometimes, but I know that will take a little while so I think I should read the others first. We'll see.

Plus I have to read my textbook, darn it all.

( I also wonder how much my annoyance with the Hornby books comes from their being written from the point of view of a man. Self-absorbed men. Who refuse to grow up. Hmm. It's just a theory.)

1 comment:

Alex said...

I completely agree about "AAB." LOVED the movie -- one of my favorites -- but the book annoyed me, as did "A Long Way Down". That surprised me, as I loved "HF" and "How to Be..."

I think it's a bit like this... people are funny when they aren't trying to be. If something sounds rehearsed or self-conscious, it doesn't work. Same goes for this type of witty writing. If you can sense the author is trying too hard, it takes you out of it.