“You mean, ‘other than me?’” I said with a smile.
“Yeah,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“Living or dead?”
“Doesn’t matter, but don’t say ‘Jane Austen.’”
I hummed and looked out the train window at the beautiful mountains I love so much.
“Who were you thinking of that’s dead, then?” he asked.
“I wasn’t thinking of anyone, just trying to think, and you know what?” I said, surprising myself as to the name that pushed himself to the forefront of my mind. “Nick Hornby.”
“Yeah,” he said, not nearly as surprised as me.
“I’ll tell you why I’m surprised,” I said, still staring the scenery. “One; he’s not a woman, and a female voice would be more appropriate to capture mine. I would expect me to say someone like JK Rowling or Margaret Atwood, but neither of them would be right. Atwood for one never really reveals much about her characters. I always feel like I’m peeking around the pages trying to figure them out. That wouldn’t suit me; I’m a little more open then that.” I looked at him and he rolled his eyes again, he knew full well what I meant, this monolog in response to a simple question, for example. “Second; why Hornby? I mean, I like his books and I would rank High Fidelity as one of my top five favourite books at present. Just the fact that I rank things in top fives shows how much the book affected me. But, I don’t think I’d say Hornby himself is one of my top five favourite authors. It’s just,” I searched for the point as the mountains slid by the window. “His voice is so conversational. He’s ironic and natural; I think that’s my style of writing as well.” I looked at Paul, he nods and I realize it’s his turn.
Later that day, Paul found a copy of High Fidelity at a market stand– Yes, on our days off we go hunting for books in nooks and crannies – and last night I started to reread it.
Rereading books really is like revisiting old friends. Yes, there have been times I’ve picked up a copy of an old favourite and instantly regretted it. Some books don’t live up to my memory or them, like getting together with friends from High School and realizing you no longer have anything in common. But some books exceed the memory I have of reading them. I think, “No way it was that good.” But it is better. It’s like getting together with an old friend and being surprised at how good a time we have. “Why don’t we do this more often,” we say. High Fidelity is one of those kinds of books.
What’s great about Horby is how real he is. He tells a story in such a way I have trouble believing it’s not a biography. The events never follow the predictable fictional model. He writes about those awkward moments between two people. The ones that never make it onto the movie screen. (Even the movie version of High Fidelity reworked those awkward interactions into moments more suited to cinema.)
We currently have A Long Way Down, How to be Good, About a Boy, and his autobiographical novel about baseball, Fever Pitch on the shelves at A Reader’s Heaven. To quote Bernard Black, “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It will change your life.” Well, a Horby book may not change your life, but you may decide you’d like him to write your biography.