Someone else mentioned that the first 32 pages alone were worth the price of the book -- and that reviewer is correct! This novel starts off beautifully: the tone of the narrator is wounded, possibly because he's reeling and in shock from the recent departure of his girlfriend, Laura. What we have is the narrator trying to come to grips with the situation, tabulate how truly hurt he is, weighing this "dumping" to former dumpings by past girlfriends, starting from the first girl he ever kissed.
I just love the tone; the guy is really hurting (and we've all been there). It's this tone I think that gives such clarity to his confessional. Anyway, following this "resume of relationship trauma," we follow as the narrator goes on to deal with his life and disappointments. As a record shop owner, he's considered an "underachiever," a loser by some. His ex is a lawyer, hence the dilemma. (The double standard is that a man can be a lawyer and have a girlfriend with a simple job and everything's fine; BUT if the woman partner is the lawyer -- then HE should at least be equally as "successful"?! Well, this smacks of reality. In the eyes of society, he needs to "grow up." Many of us reading it will feel differently, perhaps.) This book is really an accurate portrayal of the male psyche, and it delves into many of the anxieties and fears that men suffer. But Hornby knows how to mix humor with the moments of soul-searching, so it doesn't become a drag. In the end, this book is really a great romantic comedy. Certainly, one of the most honest, insightful, and funniest accounts of guy/gal relationships I've come across since reading The Losers Club by Richard Perez. Definitely don't hesitate to pick up a copy!