High Fidelity is the first Nick Hornby book I’ve read, although I’ve seen the movies Fever Pitch and About a Boy, which were based on his books. (Colin Firth was in Fever Pitch, which is a good enough reason for me to watch a movie).
Rob, the hero of this book, makes me feel anxious that the men in my life are not all they appear to be. Rob worries about stupid stuff, does stupid stuff and makes lots of stupid decisions. He is a very funny character, although more in a ‘laughing at him’ than a ‘laughing with him’ way. Do men really think like Rob? My ‘laughing at him’ was more than slightly nervous.
The book starts with Rob listing his five worst breakups with women. Four of them happened when he was still in school. One of Rob’s five most heart wrenching breakups was with someone he went out with for three days when he was thirteen years old. Several days before breaking up with another girlfriend, in high school, Rob almost got a tattoo with her initials. Luckily the tattooist wasn’t convinced it was true love and the tattoo didn’t happen.
Rob’s most recent break up was with Laura and he is at great pains to let the reader know she doesn’t make his top five breakup’s list. After Laura moves out Rob is at first elated, thinking about all the things he will be able to do now, namely; smoke in their flat, shag around and paint record label logos on the lounge room wall. But despite all of his big talk about not missing Laura, Rob eventually does realise that he misses her, particularly when he learns she has been seeing someone else.
I’m on Laura’s side here. Rob is 35 years old, has a failing business and has never really taken any responsibility in his life. He is still keeping his options open emotionally, while Laura has grown up.
High Fidelity is a little dated as it was set during the nineties. Rob owns a record (vinyl) shop, people smoke cigarettes and a lot of the descriptions of clothes, music and pop culture have clearly moved on.
I actually did enjoy High Fidelity, despite feeling alternately amused by and annoyed with Rob and his insecurities. He is entertaining and his character does actually evolve as the story develops. I just wouldn’t want to go out with him.