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Everyone's reading Hornby
on 12 February 2013
Charlie gets divorced from Elaine and, suddenly free of her ex-husband's presence, Elaine begins writing about Charlie in her weekly column titled "Bastard" published in a national newspaper. And, much to Charlie's horror, she is writing about everything - his bad habits, his sexual performance, his parenting faux pas - everything she hated about him and their marriage. And now everyone can read about it!
Nick Hornby's struck upon an interesting idea for a story but it quickly becomes clear why this became a short story and not a novel - besides the setup, nothing much happens. Charlie is publicly shamed for being an inattentive lover, a less-than-brilliant father, and a philanderer, but otherwise the concept doesn't advance much beyond the column being published each week and Charlie being embarrassed every time. And then it ends rather abruptly.
I thought the scene where Charlie and Helena, the victim of a competing column written by a vengeful husband called "Bitch", awkwardly get together in a hotel room one afternoon was funny, and the story is amusing enough for the most part. But it's not up there with Hornby's better short story efforts like the brilliant "Otherwise Pandemonium" and "Not a Star".