Otherwise Pandemonium (Pocket Penguins) Paperback – 6 May 2005
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About the Author
Nick Hornby is the author of four novels: A Long Way Down, High Fidelity, About a Boy and How to be Good, two works of non-fiction, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs, and the editor of two anthologies, My Favourite Year and Speaking with the Angel. He lives in Highbury, North London.
Top Customer Reviews
They're human. Obvious, yeah? Not really - as a reader, watcher, listener I've felt that too many storytellers fail to instil their tales with that quality of life simultaneously the most mundane and extraordinary: humanity. Hornby brings this quality in spades, as is his wont (see "31 Songs", his collection of writing on music). Authors like Nick Hornby are to be valued, because they make us remind us of ourselves. If that makes sense.
Though "Otherwise Pandemonium" is a reprint (from the McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales anthology, a stellar collection of weird tales), the all-new "Not a Star" is reason good enough to buy this volume. In fact, I recommend that you buy it, put it away, and save it for a day you're feeling really low. Reading "Not a Star" will make it all better.
This slim volume contains two short stories: Otherwise Pandemonium and the previously unpublished Not a Star.
As usual (for Hornby) both stories take the form of first-person narratives. However, the protagonists are not typical Hornby characters. In Otherwise Pandemonium the main character is a 15 year old American boy who buys a video recorder with some special features. In Not a Star the main character is a middle aged woman who discovers that her son has become a porn star because of a prodigious genetic endowment.
I'm not sure that either short story is wholly successful (for example in Otherwise Pandemonium US setting never fully convinces and the rather self-conscious Catcher in the Rye but not Catcher in the Rye style labours) but Hornby clearly had great fun writing them and this sense of fun is infectious. Both stories are quick, light, easy reads providing much enjoyment and entertainment for the reader.
OTHERWISE PANDEMONIUM is beautifully constructed story about a teenage boy who lives with his mother in Berkeley, California. He doesn't have many friends and plays trumpet in a local band, where he meets Martha who's "hot in a not slutty way". Because band rehearsals coincide with basketball games, he decides to buy a VCR to tape them. However the VCR he buys has an extraordinary ability to record not only programmes that have been on, but also programmes that will be on. As the narrator skips through future programming though, he discovers that something terrible is going on - something cataclysmic - and he has to decide what he wants to do about it.
It's a brilliant idea and it's told in a pitch-perfect first person voice that feels like a believable teenage American boy. I particularly like the snippets of information about his family background and his feelings about what he knows and what he's going to do about it. It's a great idea, brilliantly executed and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
NOT A STAR is a more light-hearted story, told by a woman who discovers that her son is working as an actor in the porn industry and he's been hiding a large [ahem] asset. Although it's a humorous story, it's also surprisingly tender - especially as the narrator struggles to come to terms with her son's choices, the impact of which brings to light certain things about her past and her relationship with her husband.Read more ›