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Pickle Me This

November 6, 2009

The new Nick Hornby novel is good!

A long time ago, before you were born, dude, when I was still single, and life was rubbish… I thought that High Fidelity was a romantic comedy. Part of this was because I wanted to marry John Cusack, of course, but it was also wishful thinking– that loving insensitive men who didn’t love you back could possibly constitute romance or even comedy, because I was really eager to construct for myself a personal narrative arc.

And then I grew up, but actually, I’d gone off Nick Hornby before that, when I made the mistake of tramping through Europe with only How to be Good in my backpack. Idiotic, I know. And I haven’t read anything he’s written since, until his newest novel, Juliet, Naked. My interest was sparked by this piece at the Guardian books blog, that the new novel was “not as predictable as you think”. And I really, really loved it.

Partly because FINALLY, a popular fiction book that isn’t just a mess of plot and character dressed up as a novel!! I’ve really lately been longing for the likes of this. And Nick Hornby has grown up too. He knows exactly what he’s doing here, doesn’t have to try too hard, and the result is remarkably assured. Juliet, Naked is funny, engaging, interestingly intertextual, smart and current. It is decidedly a Nick Hornby novel, so if you never liked him before, don’t bother, but if you liked him back when he did what does best– well, he’s done it again.

And I’m now barrelling through my to-be-read shelf. Before that, I finished My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier, which I enjoyed very much, and am now about to start my first Barbara Pym with Excellent Women.

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