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4.3 out of 5 stars
High Fidelity
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2000
This book was recommended to me by my fiance because it thought it would help me understand him, and I have to admit, it opened a window to the actions of some men through the eyes of the narative character, Rob, that I can relate to having witnessed, as I found myself comparing the book with reality to find similarities that were laughable to think about. To start, the self-pitying Rob takes a look his misfortunes with women from as early back as his school days, even as a member of the opposite sex, I felt able to relate to his experiences because everyone, myself included, will have at some point been like him, or known someone like him. As the book progresses, his actions in the present day also seem familiar as I can imagine his some-what cynical, and unintentionally comical presentation of events happenening to people I know. For example, when he realises that women are just like men because they too keep their 'best pants' for when they're going out first time with a bloke, but move in together and the 'faded M&S specials start appearing on the radiator'.
I would recommend this book to anyone, as it offers men a chance to realise that they are not alone in their suffering of the female of the species, and women a chance to relate to and appreciate the more vulnerable of males, and perhaps even understand them? (or attempt to feel sorry for them)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2000
RITA BENEDETTI From University of PISA-Italy
"HIGH FIDELITY" by Nick Hornby A book review
In "High fidelity" by Nick Hornby, the presence and importance of music is comparable to the soundtrack in a film. In fact music is not only a job for the 35-year--old Robert, owner of a record shop in London, but as himself says "a whole world sometimes more loving than the world I live in". Besides , songs accompany him in every moment of his life and mirror his thoughts and feelings better than words. Apart from music, love and friendship also play an important role in this book. Initially Rob makes a mess of his life because he is insecure, confused and sometimes immature. When the story begins Rob and his girlfriend Laura have just split up, but many past experiences have affected him negatively. Even his friendship with Dick and Barry, the young employers in his shop, is cold because he is not able to confide in them. In the end Robert understands what really matters in his life and he becomes more mature and self-aware. The style is colloquial, brilliant and ironic thanks to Rob's witty remarks. The book is a first person narration, so that the reader is more involved in the story and can identify with the protagonist. This is exactly what happened to me! A MUST READ!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2002
I started to read this book with a little scepticism, thinking that it was just going to drone on and on, but after the first couple of pages I was hooked. It tells the story of Rob, whose latest girlfriend has just left him and he is trying to figure out just where he's going wrong, as she's only the last in a fairly long line-up of relationship failures. The story is told by Rob himself and (being a woman myself) he obviously does so from a man's point of view. If ever I thought I'd never be able to understand men, this book brings me a lot closer to achieving that objective! The narrative often had me laughing out loud, recognising the (funny and often childish) traits so puzzlingly obvious in many of my male friends and partners! Having a knowledge of music and artistes greatly enhances enjoyment of this book, as the mention of forgotten favourites whisks you back in time, just as it does to Rob when he hears them. A brilliant read! Men, I understand you a little better, thanks to 'High Fidelity'!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2004
Whilst I realise that this book isn't going to click with everyone, for me it did. Almost all of Rob's thoughts, paranoia, reactions and thoughts were things I could relate to on some level - and at times it was really quite scary. It isn't going to teach women how to understand men, anymore than Bridget Jones teaches men to understand women. BUT it might teach anyone who reads it something about someone they know, and why they are as they are. Substitute the record shop and music with whatever obsessions you cling to, and all but the most small minded and stubborn people should be able to see some of themself reflected back. Not everyones cup of tea, but for those of us who connected with what Rob was thinking, clearly a masterpiece. Give it a try, if nothing else it is pretty funny throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2001
I am studying english in a distance course and we choose this novel to find out more about life today in Britain, instead of reading Austen or Shakespeare. Beeing a middle aged man myself I felt a pity for Rob, the main character, and hope he is not a typical example of his sex and age. On the other hand I must admit I recognized many of the thoughts of Rob, and almost felt ashamed for doing so. I think it is a very cleverly written book, and I realized that for the first time in many years I read a novel that was about a person in my age, with my mall of reference concerning music, films and books. I am a musician and musicteacher, and I am very impressed by Hornby's way of writing about that: he really knows what he is talking about!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2004
Rob Fleming, the narrator of HIGH FIDELITY, is a bit of a loser who runs a failing record shop in London and is attempting to sort out his feelings for his girlfriend, Laura, who is about to dump him when the book begins, for a guy who used to live upstairs from them and regale them with the sounds of his sexual exploits through the thin walls. Rob is aware he's a loser, and attributes it largely to being dumped by Charlie Nicholson, who appears on the very first page of the book as #4 on his list of five all-time worst breakups. This is the best possible introduction the reader can have to Rob, who is a compulsive list-maker, along with his slacker employees at the record shop, Dick and Barry. They spend their copious free time making lists as diverse as "Top Five Films of All Time" and "Top Five Songs About Death." These guys judge people by their musical tastes and, to a lesser extent, what films they like, and they're cruelly and immediately dismissive of anyone who doesn't make the cut. When Laura does dump Rob, he's almost accidentally pushed to take a long hard look at his life as he finds himself first dating a folk singer, then looking up the five women who dumped him in the past to try to achieve some sort of bizarre closure.
Most of us know someone like Rob, a guy arrested in adolescence with a huge record collection he obsessively catalogues and re-catalogues (first chronologically, then alphabetically, then finally, triumphantly, in the order in which he purchased each item). This guy never finished school, doesn't own a suit and doesn't seem have much of a future. Rob, however, is vaguely aware that this is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and that if he wants to get back together with Laura, it might have to change, and this makes him an endearing character in spite of himself. Sure, sometimes he acts like an "arsehole", but he admits it, and Hornby's unflinching look at what makes guys do the stupid things they do is both illuminating and affirming. (We all suspected there was a subconscious method to the overt madness.)
Hornby's style is immediate, articulate and hilariously funny throughout. The first-person, present-tense narrative puts readers in Rob's head with all its self-doubt, arrogance and confusion. When he screws up, you flinch and laugh embarrassedly; when he stands up for himself and does the right thing, you want to cheer. A great book! Another (shorter) novel I enjoyed was THE LOSERS CLUB by Richard Perez
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2001
A tiny record shop located in the suburbs of London is the place in which Rob, the main character of the book, spends his days with his two employees: the shy Dick and the peevish Barry.
They share an obsessive passion for music and an unaccustomed and superficial way of communicating by classifying anything that comes up in their lives in top-five lists. But Rob's life messes up when his long-time girlfriend Laura broke with him because of his immaturity and unreliability, making him feel miserable even he didn't know exactly his feelings for her. He realizes he has an unsatisfactory professional and personal life, so he starts to examine his behaviour in-depth trying "to sort himself out"
It's an ironic and thought-provoking analysis of a frustrated man prey to 1.000 questions and to his am biguous and illogical reasoning concerning his unlucky relationship with the opposite sex. He is, in fact, self-aware that he is incapable of control: "I f eel like a pillock, but I couldn't stop myself. I never can "
By using a straightforward and colloquial style, the author establishes a direct relation with the reader and succeeds in revealing the most hidden fears and thoughts which anyone, but especially men, can feel but would never admit in public.
The reader is involved in the descriptions that arouse affections and pity in him but may sometimes feel irritated by Rob's childish mistakes and contradictions.
A bitter-sweet, extremely funny book that will make you spend pleasant hours...
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on 20 April 2013
So, I think I'm starting to understand what my problem is with Nick Hornby, and the reason why he's otherwise loved. His stories are written from a male perspective, at least the one's I've read so far, and so it makes sense that they are written the way they are (i.e. crass, clumsy, lacks a lot of tact, more realistic I guess, unromantic, and filled with so much self-loathing and that of others).

Personally, this is my second book for Hornby - the first being About a Boy, which I really disliked. I didn't hate this one, but I didn't like it very much either. The characters are simply not likeable. And I truly hate infidelity, adultery, liars and cheats. I mean, come on. The protagonist, whom I cannot even recall his name, is an overgrown, immature boy. Yes, he has good taste in music, but that's about it.

I won't lie, there are some parts which you relate to in terms of being in a relationship, but this is mostly written from a guy's perspective. Nick is basically taking you on a very brutally honest journey into a man's mind - and that's how it works. Reality check indeed.

The story felt very silly, incomplete, and altogether unnecessary. I don't even know how to describe it to tell you the truth. There was a beginning, a middle, and then it sort of trails off into nothingness. I have to believe that not all men function the way the character in this story does.

I suppose the bottom line is, Nick Hornby writes the opposite of chick-lits. Not sure what they call that. Male-lit? So I can understand why a lot of men would enjoy these books and relate to them, I guess. Even some women maybe. Personally, It's not for me. This one and About a Boy were more than enough Hornby for me.

I did very much enjoy his short story Nipplejesus, so at least there's that. Maybe I like him better in short stories than I do when he writes full-blown books.
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on 23 March 2012
Over the years I have bought about half a dozen copies of "High Fidelity" and given them all away to friends with the exhortation to "...read this, it's just wonderful"! Sadly none of my friends ever seem to find the same sense of unadulterated joy in Hornby's prose as I do.

My current copy came from a charity shop and has a small sticker on the back saying "50p - Good", obviously intended as a comment on the physical condition of the book, but which I mistakenly took to be a critical review. I still recall my embarrassment on marching to the desk demanding to know why it didn't say "excellent"!

The blurb inside the front cover starts with a quote from the Guardian: "The most frequent response to High Fidelity is `Oh God, I know people just like that'..." Well it's true; I do - me. Whenever I re-read the novel, which has been every couple of years, I find myself wincing with painful self-recognition. Right down to the obsessive list making (each new diary of mine used to start with a list of my top ten albums, novels and movies so that I could compare the lists back to previous years).

Hornby is such an astute writer, with a real gift for comedy. If you regard "Fever Pitch" as a memoir then amazingly "High Fidelity" is his debut novel and it is astonishing. I know all the jokes yet still find myself reading with an inane grin on my face, when I'm not laughing uncontrollably - not a book to read on a quiet train. In Rob Fleming he has created a totally believable and fatally flawed human being, and I still find myself rooting for him from the bottom of my heart.

Hornby's authorial voice is conversational with an immediacy that makes you feel as though he had written a confessional just for you alone. His dialogue is an object lesson in authenticity for any aspiring writer; effortlessly fluent and compulsively readable. It certainly makes its way into my list of my top five favourite novels, year on year.
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on 14 March 2012
Over the years I have bought about half a dozen copies of "High Fidelity" and given them all away to friends with the exhortation to "...read this, it's just wonderful"! Sadly none of my friends ever seem to find the same sense of unadulterated joy in Hornby's prose as I do.

My current copy came from a charity shop and has a small sticker on the back saying "50p - Good", obviously intended as a comment on the physical condition of the book, but which I mistakenly took to be a critical review. I still recall my embarrassment on marching to the desk demanding to know why it didn't say "excellent"!

The blurb inside the front cover starts with a quote from the Guardian: "The most frequent response to High Fidelity is `Oh God, I know people just like that'..." Well it's true; I do - me. Whenever I re-read the novel, which has been every couple of years, I find myself wincing with painful self-recognition. Right down to the obsessive list making (each new diary of mine used to start with a list of my top ten albums, novels and movies so that I could compare the lists back to previous years).

Hornby is such an astute writer, with a real gift for comedy. If you regard "Fever Pitch" as a memoir then amazingly "High Fidelity" is his debut novel and it is astonishing. I know all the jokes yet still find myself reading with an inane grin on my face, when I'm not laughing uncontrollably - not a book to read on a quiet train. In Rob Fleming he has created a totally believable and fatally flawed human being, and I still find myself rooting for him from the bottom of my heart.

Hornby's authorial voice is conversational with an immediacy that makes you feel as though he had written a confessional just for you alone. His dialogue is an object lesson in authenticity for any aspiring writer; effortlessly fluent and compulsively readable. It certainly makes its way into my list of my top five favourite novels, year on year.
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