Thursday, August 27, 2015

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

Reviewed by The Quidnunc


Will is a 36-year-old child that never bothered with serious matters. He suffers from the Peter Pan syndrome so badly that he hungers to stay as hip as any teenager. He jumped straight from the pages and right into my heart. Although naive and breezy the novel is enjoyable and manages to surprise you even with a little depth.
What I absolutely adored about it is the lack of any pretensions what so ever. I am so tired of reading books that aspire to be so much more than they have the potential to be, that I was toppled by the simple, honest charm of this unexpected and definitely unintended masterpiece.
Hornby does a wonderful job creating realistic characters who suffer from as much unlikeability as real people would. I am part of a generation spellbound by the perfect unison of romantic and cynic and "About a Boy" is that, but also so much more.
In a world organized around the idea that childhood is meant to last forever, why would anyone bother to defy the labyrinths of adulthood? These conflicts wouldn’t ring as true to me without the constant references to the good, the bad and the ugly of the phonographic industry at that time. It’s possible to grasp a variety of unwritten aspects about the boy and his messed up folks simply because Hornby’s writing makes me hear a multitude of tones (sometimes mere noises) travelling through their trajectories and, somehow, making them who they are. Hornby's musical sensitivity is always present, even when he doesn't directly mention anything about music: there's a peculiar rhythm in his language I can recognize and listen to it for hours, like one of those killing tunes I used to listen during my teenage years, when I would lock my room, light an incense, turn off the lights, put on my favorite CD (Radiohead? AlanisMorissette? Nirvana?) and repeat the same track as a mantra, wondering when my personal turmoil of agonies and expectations would finally end. Luckily, that bizarre phase did end one day, but the music survived. Not specifically the same music I used to dig at that time, but the need of music itself: there’s always a certain song I HAVE TO listen over and over and over with my eyes shut because it’s just that irresistible, a metaphysical experience almost. Hornby portrays this sentiment incredibly well, and is able to compose the narrative as one very captivating song by assimilation.
Now there’s one thing: this book won’t change your life. it’s just about a ridiculously immature guy trying to pick up women and have a suave existence, but things rapidly change when he meets an unhip kid and his depressing mom. Nothing so special about the plot as you can see, but I would give Hornby a chance. His music really is addictive.