Book review: High Fidelity


By Balbina Mariño Fernández

High Fidelity was Published in 1995 by Nick Hornby having a great success.Was adapted into a 2000’s film directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack.

The plot takes place in the nineties in London. Rob Fleming is the owner of a barely surviving vintage record shop, located in a quiet and lonely street in Holloway. Championship Vinyl sells punk, blues, soul and every thing “for the serious record collector”, which means peculiar young men looking for deleted Smiths singles and other similar stuff. In fact, customers are actual music junkies as Rob and his shop assistants Barry and Dick are. Dick is a quiet and shy guy that always tries to agree with everything people says. Otherwise, Barry talk is ralentlessly and intimidating, plenty off “bollocks and “fuck off” distressing customers and colleagues. Rob, Dick and Barry expend their free time taping and making “top- five lists” about all the aspects of Pop culture: music, books and films…. discussing and defending their priorities.

Actually, the first chapter of the book is about “the Rob desert island, all time top-five most memorable split-ups”, because Laura, Rob’s girl friend has just left him.
After a half amusing half self-deprecating description of these relationships Rob concludes that Laura has not been hard enough to be there.

Meetings with the top-five ex-girl friends, one night pick-up stand with singer Marie Lasalle (an old fantasy), a new reorganization of his records… everything falls
trough. Nevertheless after the initial sensation of liberation and nervous excitement Rob plunges into “the great mid-age crisis”. After sticking out a totally miserable celebration of his thirty-six birthay that made him absolutely homesick, he starts to reconsider his reasons, feelings and expectations.

The story is told in the first person and we know everything about Rob’s thoughts, likes, dislikes, secret feelings and the masculine point of view about the heart’s affairs. Rob is a self-absorbed arrogant and a bit immature guy, who could be the representative on the perfect nineties everyman. He is a true archetipe that you could
easily identifiy with someone you know.

The book is about love and relationships, music and losse, loneliness and death but despite this matters you find a funny (sometimes hilarious) sharp, moving in a
strange way and really really brilliant story.

I chose it because I read a Spanish translation many years ago, and I remember me late at night in the bed laughing to tears and unable to stop reading it. I also
remember how in the first chapter I said “ Oh My God!, he’s just like C…”, a friend of mine that I perfectly identified with Rob, in fact, I gave him the book as a present
immediately.

The reading was quite dificult at the beginning because of the coloquial language, but soon reading became easy, amusing and very, very pleasant. I strongly recomend it.

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