Sunday, August 12, 2007
Isn't 'Lad Lit' a funny term?
I was really looking forward to reading A Long Way Down. I'd been meaning to get in on the whole Nick Hornby love for years now. Especially since my esteemed friend, Kip, is such a big fan. As I do try to avoid adult novels, my only recourse was, of course, to assign it to the book group. I'm quite the overlord like that.
Of course, I forgot the darn book when I went on vacation. As group was literally 3 days after I returned, that wasn't very smart. Fortunately, it gave me a really good reason to visit my old hometown library. Where I also used to work. I borrowed theirs. They were very nice about it.
But, to the book. This is a review site, after all. I suppose. Of sorts.
Four strangers find themselves at the same time at the same place with the same goal: Midnight, New Year's Eve; the roof of Topper's House; suicide. Surprised not to be alone in what they thought to be their last moments, the four disparate characters turn to each other and find the one thing they thought they had given up - hope.
Maureen, JJ, Martin and Jess. Mother, rocker, celebrity, obnoxious teen. I enjoyed it. It took me forever to read, but I appreciated the ever-present dark humor. It was far lighter than one should rightfully expect a novel about suicide to be, but it didn't hold back when the darkness was warranted. It's a bit of the tragicomic. Maureen's story was especially sad. Jess was marvelously unreliable as a narrator. Martin was realistically unlikable, but interesting. JJ was probably the weakest character-wise, but Hornby avoided making him into an American cliche, so that's something.
Did I mention that the entire book rotates through each of the four's voices? Group, by large, had a hard time following the shift in POV. I didn't really have a problem, but I can admit to a few chapters where I had to flip back to figure out who was talking. This was usually between Martin and JJ.
There has been a shift in my group that became wildly obvious at this session. Suddenly, I found myself primarily surrounded by 20-somethings. When I started this group, almost a year ago now, I was by far, the youngest person there. Gradually, the average age has sunk (by like, 30 years). It's neither here nor there, as all are very much welcome to come, it is just interesting to note.
Coincidentally, Hornby's first teen novel, Slam, comes out in October. I do think I shall check that out. I think the pairing just might be ideal.