Monday, December 11, 2006

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I've read this charming novel before and seen the charming movie, but lately I've realized that it's become a cultural touchstone for many boys of my generation and I felt a sudden need to understand them and so I read it again. And I've decided it's Bridget Jones for boys. And let's be clear, I'm a Bridget Jones fan (the first book only) because she's really really funny. And so is Hornby. But anyway I was thinking of teaching the novel because of its strange structure--the lists--but as I reread, I realized it's a completely conventional structure with the lists on top as a disguise to make it seem strange (all the more reason to teach it--the ordinary made new). It starts with an inciting incident (girlfriend leaves), goes into exposition ("top five most memorable split-ups"), develops some subplots (record shop, etc), brings the past into the present (visiting the top five split-ups in their current lives), and includes a second incident (ex's dad dies) that brings things to a climax and off we go...

1 comment:

Brian said...

I think it's a well-done example of a trend I find troubling in contemporary fiction--the gimmick that poses as originality. I saw it in the fiction of some of my fellow grad students. Write an ordinary story, but make the protagonist a base jumper or a whacked-out religious philosopher. It can be charming--I loved both the film and novel versions of High Fidelity--but in general I don't like the trend.