High Fidelity: A Novel

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High Fidelity: A Novel

by Nick Hornby

Penguin Publishing Group | March 14, 2000 | Trade Paperback

High Fidelity: A Novel is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 20.
Now a major motion picture from Touchstone Pictures.

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs...); top five Elvis Costello songs ("Alison"...); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly...). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of "Baby, I Love Your Way" makes him cry. But maybe it''s just that he''s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CD''s that this implies, might not be so bad.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8 × 5.22 × 0.85 in

Published: March 14, 2000

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1573228214

ISBN - 13: 9781573228213

Found in: Movie and Television Tie-Ins
Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Woman's Opinion Like others here, I'm not part of the group this book is aimed at. However, I was pleased to find that I still found it funny and relatable. Rob is a character drifting through young adulthood, and as someone just entering young adulthood, I appreciated seeing someone wondering what to do with themselves and knowing that this is in fact normal. What I did find odd was towards the end of the book I wasn't as transfixed as I was at the beginning. It was a well-written, funny, smart book, so I'm not really sure why this happened, but that's the only reason for the lower rating. It must have just been me. It's still worth a look, though.
Date published: 2011-09-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Entertaining High Fidelity is the story of Rob, a thirty-six-year old music junkie, who is trying to figure out how he fits into the world. Rob is afraid of commitment ... he wants "to keep his options open" ... wandering through his own life as though he is waiting for something good to happen. But he doesn't do anything that would inspire good things to happen. He is afraid to take a chance; he is afraid of failure. Despite the (sort of) downer theme, the book is really funny and very entertaining. I laughed out loud reading this book, and you will too. Hornby gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of a guys' head ... which can be kind of scary (LOL). I enjoyed this book because it was entertaining ... the kind of book that you can read for pure enjoyment. But it made me think about things, too. About how boys are different from girls, about success and how it is measured and about dream jobs. I read this book as part of a self-imposed challenge to read 100 books in 1 year. Click the link below to read all my thoughts on this book. http://takenoutofcontext-jill.blogspot.com/2010/02/living-dream.html
Date published: 2010-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Original! This book was truely something. It took a look at a very real situation and shed light on it. I mean, what girl isn't in a relationship who doesn't wish that they could get inside their boyfriends heads better. This book was interesting in that it delt with a man struggling to get over a girl and who in the process evaluates all of his past relaitonships to undersand what led him to this specific time in his life. The humour and honestly in which Nick Hornby writes is truely impressive. This is definutely a must read for anyone.
Date published: 2009-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it I love this book, and I still did not feel any sympathy for the main character, well maybe just a little. I was really disappointed when they turned it into a movie and changed all the locations and characters to Americans ones. All the changes made really killed all the English charm and humor that I love in the book.
Date published: 2008-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Book That's Hard Not To Like What Hornby does so well-- and in this, he is quite like the Vonegut's and Salinger's before him-- is create characters that we can associate with so easily. Characters that we can undertand. In Rob Fleming (Rob Gordon in the surprisingly well done film adaptation starring John Cusack) Hornby has created a character that is both loveable and loathable simultaneously. The result is a character, story, and book that the reader doesn't want to put down until it is done. In each chapter, on nearly every page, there is a memorable quote or comment that leaves the reader thoughtfully smiling. A real pleasure read all in all. Enjoy!
Date published: 2008-06-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Started slow, but was a good read Getting into this book at first was a challenge, the author is focused on the little details and gets a bit verbose. But the story picks up after all the introductions and you get quite a vivid look at the characters and care about whats going to happen to them (which kept me reading).
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book This is an amazing book. The writing is wonderful, the characters seem so real you feel you know them and you get a real feel for the place and time. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from hmm. you may be surprised to find that i am in fact a fourteen year old girl, and i have given the same rating to a book as several middle-aged men. the reasons for my rating, however, are very different than theirs. they all said that it shows what men are really thinking. no duh. is that not, somewhat, what the jacket cover claimed it would do? i love this book for more obscure reasons than the obvious ones, and i find it a shame that people are so literal, especially with books. high fidelity, and, in fact, all nick hornby books, have a lot more to offer than that.
Date published: 2003-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Insider's View of Men What an excellent book! Nick Hornby has done it again! Hornby paints a clear picture of a guy in his 30's who hasn't quite grown up yet. We are introduced to Rob and his world. Rob, as the narrator and central character, tells us of his girlfriends and what effect they had on his life. The story begins as his latest girlfriend has walked out on him. Rob comes across as a somewhat childish, self-centred guy who hasn't quite grown up... but yet, somehow despite all of that is quite loveable! This book provided me with some insight's into men's minds... if even a little bit of this is true, it's explained a whole lot to me! I believe we've all met someone like Rob. All the rest of Nick Hornby's books are now on my "must read" list.
Date published: 2001-04-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Uncomfortably true, bitingly funny I was recommended this book when a friend of mine told me to read it; he then began this strange habit of asking me to list my top 5 favorite movies, songs, books and so on. After reading the book, I began to understand his obsession and even (I admit with embarrassment) began to take part in the fun. Hornby's portrayal of Rob (frighteningly my own namesake!) seemed just a bit too familir to me. Not just because it reminded me of me, but so many other of my friends. The book IS funny, yet tinged with a sadness too. It was pathetic sad, and yes, funny too when Rob went to visit all his past girlfriends to find out what went wrong. This brand of dark humour perhaps was too much for me - at times I almost found the novel humourously bleak. Nonetheless, Hornby succeeds in creating orginal, funny, and , unfortunately, believable characters. A highly recommended book.
Date published: 2000-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from bouya! This book blew me away....seriously go buy this book...right from the begining this book is very hard to put down..besides being absolutely hilarious, the book has you nodding with self actualization.
Date published: 2000-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Humour & Heart This is a novel with both humour and heart. I lost count of the number of sections of this book I read out loud to other people becuase they were so funny or insightful. A true treasure that's well worth the cover price. I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2000-08-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just Like An Old Album... It used to be that when you bought an LP, the first couple of songs on each side were the best tracks. What followed usually were the average tracks followed by the filler. "High Fidelity" is like that. As a member of the demographic that Hornby writes about, I found myself identifying completely with the story. But then as the plot unwound, I found myself cringing and hoping against hope that Hornby would avoid the "Hollywood" ending. He doesn't, and the result is a book that started out brilliantly peters out into banality. As we used to say about an average album: "If there was ever an argument for selective home taping, this is it."
Date published: 2000-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Fidelity An excellent story set to some great music. This book provides good insight into the way men view relationships. The characters are honest, funny, intelligent and most of all, very entertaining. The casting for the movie version could not have been better, and the soundtrack is an absolute must to buy.
Date published: 2000-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Honest, well written and about time!!! This book was absolutely fantastic! Nick Hornby is the voice of modern men. The characters are completely seperate personalities and yet they seem to embody something from all men's lives. Many women won't like this book because it's a little revealing of the *other* side of romance but when I read it I can remember thinking, "Finally!" someone tell's it like it is from a man's point of view. I also recommend his other book, "About a Boy" - not as good but still great.
Date published: 2000-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Fidelity This book was great. It revolves around the owner of a struggling record store in England and his various hapless attempts to sort out his life, his relationships with women, and the future of his business. It was as if the author had poked a flashlight into men's brains to find out how they really feel about women-and how terrified they are that women might find out what men really think of themselves. Guys will swear that Hornby was writing about them personally, and women should stay away from this book at all costs. There are secrets in here that they were never meant to know. Funny and well worth a read.
Date published: 1999-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Fidelity This book was great. It revolves around the owner of a struggling record store in England and his various hapless attempts to sort out hs life, his relationships with women, and the future of his business. It was as if the author had poked a flashlight into men's brains to find out how they really feel about women-and how terrified they are that women might find out what men really think of themselves. Guys will swear that Hornby was writing about them personally, and women should stay away from this book at all costs. There are secrets in here that they were never meant to know. Funny and well worth a read.
Date published: 1999-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Doesn't get any better!!!! Of all the books I have ever read, this is far and away my favorite! Like many other readers, I identified closely with Rob Fleming (the main character)...this was slightly alarming, but mostly, it was strangely comforting. I have reread this book so many times that I've almost worn out my copy...but it's still a great read, time after time! There isn't a poor, or even average, page in the whole book - it's fantastic from top to bottom. Do yourself (and me) a favor and read this book - you'll be glad you did!
Date published: 1999-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Fidelity Rocks This is a fantastic book. Nick Hornby is a master of dry wit and all out humour, and it's a great story too. It is the story of a 30 something used record store owner, and it is a must read. I saw myself in some of the book, which was both frightening and enlightening. I loved the book, and my friends in the UK who recommended it to me loved it. I have loaned my copy out several times, and it has always come back with enthusiastic comments. READ THIS BOOK!
Date published: 1999-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book! Currently my favourite book of all time! I am not the only male I know who sees many aspects of himself in the character of Rob. Hornby's writing style is excellent, and several passages will have you laughing out loud. He hits several aspects about relationships and the male psyche spot on. Possibly not for everyone, but I've lent this book to several friends (male and female), and some of them have gone out and bought their own copy just so they have it on hand when they want to re-read their favourite passages. Highly recommended!
Date published: 1999-05-17

– More About This Product –

High Fidelity: A Novel

by Nick Hornby

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 8 × 5.22 × 0.85 in

Published: March 14, 2000

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1573228214

ISBN - 13: 9781573228213

From the Publisher

Now a major motion picture from Touchstone Pictures.

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs...); top five Elvis Costello songs ("Alison"...); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly...). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of "Baby, I Love Your Way" makes him cry. But maybe it''s just that he''s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CD''s that this implies, might not be so bad.

About the Author

Nick Hornby is the author of six internationally bestselling novels (High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good, A Long Way Down, Slam and Juliet, Naked) and several works of  non-fiction including Fever Pitch, Songbook and Ten Years In The Tub, a collection of his ''Stuff I''ve Been Reading'' columns from the Believer.  His screenplay for the film An Education was nominated for an Academy Award. He lives in Highbury, north London.
 

From Our Editors

Journalist Nick Hornby makes a dazzling literary debut with this engaging novel that follows the plight of a London record shop owner. In his mid-30s, David Cale deals with his traumatized love life - after splitting with his long-time girlfriend - by compulsively making song lists and devising a new filing system for his enormous vintage record collection. David uses every coping device possible to neurotically deal with his own unrest. Fabulously funny and subtly stylish, High Fidelity, now a major motion picture starring John Cusack, will have you howling with laughter.

Editorial Reviews

"As funny, compulsive and contemporary a first novel as you could wish for."&#151GQ

"One of the top ten books of the year."&#151Entertainment Weekly

"It is rare that a book so hilarious is also so sharp about sex and manliness, memory and music."&#151The New Yorker

"Mr. Hornby captures the loneliness and childishness of adult life with such precision and wit that you''ll find yourself nodding and smiling. High Fidelity fills you with the same sensation that you get from hearing a debut record album that has more charm and verve and depth than anything you can recall."&#151The New York Times Book Review

"Hornby''s seamless prose and offhand humor make for one hilarious set piece after another, as suffering, self-centered Rob ruminates on women, sex, and Abbey Road. But then he''s forced to consider loneliness, fitting-in, death, and failure&#151and that is what lingers."&#151Spin

"Keep this book away from your girlfriend&#151it contains too many of your secrets to let it fall into the wrong hands."&#151Details

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTION
Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs...); top five Elvis Costello songs ("Alison"...); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly...). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of "Baby, I Love Your Way" makes him cry. But maybe it''s just that he''s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CD''s that this implies, might not be so bad.
ABOUT NICK HORNBY

Nick Hornby is the author of the novels How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

I''m always rather amazed when people talk about your books as being jolly accounts of popular culture. There are a lot of potential disasters for your characters and they''re hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

Somebody said that it was the "comedy of depression." I think it is why a certain group of people respond so strongly to the books, all the characters are depressed.

I think you actually use the word depression in all the books?

I guess there are an awful lot of people out there who do feel depressed and don''t find that low level depression reflected in many books that they read. Literature is usually much more crisis-focused.

You wouldn''t describe your books as "domestic," but you write about daily lives and ordinary things, which maybe one doesn''t get in a lot of books.

I don''t mind my books being described as domestic at all. It was very much an impetus when I started writing. I read a lot books by women and identified with them much more because I lived a domestic life - and most of us do - and that really wasn''t reflected in any of the books written by men. It seemed odd to me that most of us bring up families and go to work and yet the books our male representatives are writing about huge things in history and people on the edge. Of course we have a need for those books, but there did seem to be a bit of a hole where no one was writing about what actually happened.

Was that reflected in your own reading? Who are the writers you admire most?

At the time that I started writing I had just discovered the books of Anne Tyler and Lorrie Moore. I''d never read a book that more precisely articulated what I wanted to do than Anne Tyler''s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. There were some depressed and lost characters and a lot of humour, and I just felt this is what I want to be when I grow up. I had read two Lorrie Moore books, Self Help and Like Life, just before Fever Pitch came out. Again they had very sharp humour but were incredibly accessible and I think it was something particularly at the time that had been lost from contemporary British fiction.

Do you feel much more at home with American contempory fiction than British fiction?

Yeah, I feel much more at home. I think there''s always been that strain of American writing that wants to write simply and accessibly, but intelligently. I think in this country we are much more hung up on demonstrating that you are writing a book and being clever about it, and consequently people weren''t reading them much here.

Were not reading the British writers'' books?

Yes. If you have a short-list of six Booker Prize books, people read the one that wins. Because it won the other five are completely disregarded and this is somehow supposed to be representative of our literary culture. I do think in the 1980s there was a huge gap between best-selling books and literature, and there really wasn''t anything in between. For me Roddy Doyle was an important part of that. When I read The Commitments it was simple and funny. It was about things I understood and you could see a great rush of identification with Roddy''s books.

You''ve mentioned the Booker Prize. Do you think that awards such as this misrepresent literature and the kinds of books that are out there?

I think that the Booker Prize sets a tone of a certain kind of literary writer. As a young writer you''re looking at two polarities that you don''t really like the look of. There was the Jackie Collins stuff on one side, and there was this very difficult, dark, inaccessible literature on the other.

I think there is a general desire to read good books. People read books on the way to work and before they go to bed. We''ve all had that terrible feeling that you''re making no impression on a novel at all and you''re 30 pages in and there''s 472 pages left and you''ve been reading it for three weeks already. I think the Americans have always understood that once you have a price on the back of your book there is some kind of contract you''re entering into.

Yes, and American authors do have that pop-culture feeding in too.

It seemed obvious to me that popular culture is an important part of all our lives and it should have some kind of reflection in the books we are reading. I''ve never understood why people didn''t describe or just mention what TV programmes people were watching, I''ve always suspected it''s something to do with having an eye on posterity.

Take us through an average day in the life of Nick Hornby.

I wander to my office, a small flat just round the corner from home. I smoke, mess round on the Internet, email, and, eventually, start writing—usually just when it''s time to pick up my son from school.

What''s on your bedside table?

Back copies of The New Yorker, Andrew Rawnsley''s book about New Labour, the new Michael Chabon novel and indigestion tablets.

What was the last film you saw?

At the time of the interview, You Can Count On Me, which I loved to bits.

You are now the pop critic for The New Yorker—could you see yourself ever living there?

My domestic circumstances wouldn''t allow it at the moment, but I''d love to live in the US for a while at some stage—San Francisco is the place I''d choose.

What are you working on next?

I''m having a go at co-writing a screenplay, with Emma Thompson. She was shown the first draft of something I''d written, and she was so smart about what was wrong with it that I suggested we do it together. We did a bit of plotting last summer, but we haven''t started the actual writing yet. I''m looking forward to it.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Why is Rob so conflicted about remaining in the relationship with Laura? Does it have more to do with his age or his particular eccentricities? Do you think many men—and women—go through internal struggles similar to Rob’s when it comes to commitment?
     
  • What issues are at the center of Rob’s dissatisfaction with his life? If he had to make a list of the top 5 reasons he was dissatisfied, what would they be?
     
  • Why is it so important for Rob to contact and meet the women who have dumped him? Does he find what he was hoping to discover? What does he learn that surprises him?
     
  • Why does Rob turn to familiar songs in times of crisis? What solace do they provide? What does the book reveal about the ways in which popular music affects our lives? What role does popular music play in memory and emotional attachments? Can you think of an example from your own experience, where a pop song provided an uncanny soundtrack for your life at a particular time?
     
  • Rob, Barry, and Dick have an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music. What are the benefits and liabilities of this particular talent? How do they use that knowledge in social situations?
     
  • Why doesn’t Rob stay in regular contact with friends? What is behind his emotional distance from friends and family?
     
  • What is the significance of lists in Rob’s life? Why are they used as a recurring motif in the book?
     
  • On page 247 Rob says “I saw, for the first time, how scared I am of dying, and of other people dying….” What role does death—and the fear of death—play in fidelity and infidelity? Is that fear a crutch for Rob, an impediment, or another matter entirely?
     
  • In what ways do Barry and Dick represent different parts of Rob’s personality? In what ways are they completely unique individuals, different than Rob? How does each one help him as a friend? What, if anything, does Rob learn from them?
     
  • Compilation tapes—collections of different songs on the same tape—carry a special significance for Rob. What meanings do they embody for him, and what does it mean when he gives someone a tape he’s compiled? What is he really giving to a woman when and if he gives her a new compilation tape?
  • Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18