09-Sep-2011

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Rating - Don't read


I am not sure if there is a word to describe the male-equivalent of chick-lit (boy-lit?) but if there is one, then Hornby would fit into the category perfectly. This is not to say that I am demeaning Hornby (especially for those who would consider calling something as chick-lit as demeaning). Hornby has a lot of stuff that is clearly not boy-lit but he does stand out at his ability to provide the male version of relationship issues (read High Fidelity).

Another thing that Hornby is extremely skilled at is providing description of wasters. My first brush with this skill was with the wonderfully funny About a Boy.

Juliet, Naked is a combination of sorts of both these books. It tells us the story of a middle-aged, educated couple Annie and Duncan. Both have spent 15 years in a backwater called Gooleness where they had initially arrived as bright, young people passing by. Duncan is obsessed with the work of Tucker Crowe, a rockstar who had a limited artistic career but managed to gather a small group of loyal fans on the way.

The story is mostly told from Annie’s perspective. Fast approaching the end of her child-bearing years, she begins to question her relationship with Duncan, his obsession with Tucker Crowe and her own dead-end life in Gooleness. She ends up communicating with the reclusive Crowe, who provides her with some life perspectives from the backwaters in which he has accumulating ex-wives and kids and wasting away his time.

The book is unfortunately a bit of overkill. Each character cannot utter a sentence without having a full-blow analysis of the thought process behind it. Besides, there is a slight sense of been there-done that. You feel like telling Annie that it is ok to go through some sort of mid-life crisis, but for heaven’s sake stop brooding and move on or shut it.

Which of course is not a good attitude to have as you flip through 200 pages. Yet, I could not complain really. I was on holiday in a floating cottage. I had raided the library of the resort and was reading a free copy of Hornby. So what if the book was not upto expectations. Anyway you did not want to use more than half a brain in these situations.

In the final analysis, I would say – if you want to read Hornby, try the other books I have mentioned here. And Hornby is a good writer of non-fiction too if you like reading, music or football.

Funnily enough, my brush with Hornby has always involved some sort of holiday. I began to skim through High Fidelty on a road trip to Goa. I came across The Complete Polysyllabic Reading Spree on another trip to Goa and bought it from a second hand book seller who was happy to chat and give me a long account of his travels (and for being a good listener, I got the book at a deep discount). And now Juliet, Naked from the libraries of Poovar Island Resort. Is it that people who like to travel also read a lot of Hornby?

1 comment:

byker7 said...

Technically, I believe, the male version of chick-lit is coyly described as fratire, although there's a small, but vociferous lobby in favour of calling it dick-lit.