When it comes to choosing books, I’m as fussy and demanding as I am when it comes to food, or music. It’s not a wonder that I have a hard time when searching for a light and entertaining book, and yet not superficial or ordinary.
Well, to cut things short: this novel had everything I was wishing for. Hornby tells one of the most common tropes of books and movies with an unparalleled freshness – no wonder that “High Fidelity” is considered a classic by many!
The protagonist is Rob Fleming, the thirty-something bitter owner of a record shop in London. The truth is, he has every possible reason to be bitter about his life: his girlfriend left him, his obscure little vinyl shop is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy and his only friends are actually his employees – and they are as bitter, unreliable and oblivious of real-life responsibilities as he is.
Talking of responsibilities, Rob’s main issue seems to be the fear of intimacy and commitment. Rob’s love for Laura is his probably his most redeeming quality, and yet he struggles with the everyday-ness of love: when the initial “sparkle” is gone and your significant other is not a novelty anymore. In the end, guess what? Love does not need to be a novelty to make your heart skip a beat.
In my opinion
The book consists of Rob Fleming taking us to a hilarious trip across the ups and downs of his single life, spiced up by his obsession for pop music, his top-five lists about absolutely anything and his friends’ pills of wisdom.
The narrative voice is ironic and flowing, which made me unable to put down the book until I reached its last page. Plus, while the book has some serious moments, Rob is the type of character who doesn’t take himself seriously and he’s far from perfect. This is something that I really like in book characters, as it makes them people you can easily relate with. Seriously, who does actually like “perfect” characters?
It is known that the devil is in the details – and a detail I absolutely loved about this book, being myself a music-lover and vinyl-junkie, is the constant reference to songs and musicians from the ’60s, to the ’80s throughout the book. Not to mention all those references to old –pardon, i meant vintage– music-related technology. I actually never had to record a musical compilation on an audio-cassette for my friends, but that sounds so very time-consuming in a romantic kind of way!
This same story written by any other author would sound like the same old, boring story about a guy that loses a girl and tries to win her back, but Hornby has the ability of writing it in a fresh and enjoyable way, which makes this book a classic in its own way.