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High fidelity (1995)

door Nick Hornby

LedenBesprekingenPopulariteitGemiddelde beoordelingAanhalingen
13,652181311 (3.92)236
Rob is de klagerige, jaloerse en cynische eigenaar van een matig lopend speciaalzaakje in grammofoonplaten in Noord-Londen. Popmuziek beheerst zijn leven en is in feite de reden dat al zijn relaties mislukken.
Onlangs toegevoegd doorArina42, besloten bibliotheek, tyeve, fairy.bookmother, aaronarnold, tlwright
  1. 50
    Een jongen door Nick Hornby (Maurizio70)
  2. 10
    Wat wil een man nog meer door John O'Farrell (alzo)
  3. 10
    Everything Changes door Jonathan Tropper (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both funny and enjoyable books about a young guy rethinking his life.
  4. 10
    Nick en Norah door Rachel Cohn (lampbane)
    lampbane: Another story where music and love are interconnected.
  5. 00
    The Song is You door Arthur Phillips (elenchus)
    elenchus: Similar taste in music by the protagonists, but a very different novel. Both very good.
  6. 00
    Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting door Brett Milano (Sr_Moreno)
  7. 00
    Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me door Martin Millar (AsYouKnow_Bob)
  8. 01
    Hairstyles of the Damned door Joe Meno (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both are introspective and character-based novels about a witty and music-obsessed young man suffering from relationship problems. Readers who enjoy savvy, music-literate fiction will enjoy the hip, colloquial prose and rich detail concerning popular music.… (meer)
  9. 01
    YOU comma Idiot door Doug Harris (ShelfMonkey)
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The film version of High Fidelity is the greatest romantic comedy about music fans ever made. The book itself, which I'd stupidly not read until just now, was not one bit less good. As with all truly meaningful art, I found different things to relate to now than I did when I saw the movie back in college, but much of it was just as great as I remember: the protagonist has the right balance of likability and unlikability, his music obsession is as admirable as it is embarrassing, and the resolutions of his personal and professional crises are as inspirational as they are aspirational. As a romantic fantasy for anyone who thinks that sharing musical taste (or any kind of taste) with someone means that everything will always work out for the best, High Fidelity can't be beaten, and even the parts where I disagreed with the plot had me thinking about how my own life was "supposed" to go. Even its sappy ending is unhateable.

If you've somehow never seen the movie, Rob Fleming is an aimless, drifting music shop owner who's dumped by his girlfriend Laura because she's tired of dating an aimless, drifting music shop owner. In search of some form of emotional closure, he tries to track down the five of his past girlfriends whose breakups have hurt him the most, while taking stock of how he has gotten to this point in his life, where his dreams seemed to have evaporated and left only his dead-end job and a few "friends" in front of him. Along the way, as he attempts to reconcile with Laura, he learns important lessons about commitment, fidelity, righting wrongs, facing your fears, and what it means to follow your dreams. He talks a lot about music too.

It's not nearly as insipid as that though - even though the book was published in 1995 and is still firmly in the pre-internet era in its tone, its view of the essential ambiguity of modern relationships, using music as an example of the ways people try (and fail) to connect to each other, is perfectly current and applicable. Rob can't commit, which is hardly uncommon, and it becomes uncomfortably obvious that in addition to his fear of death, he doesn't respect himself. This is properly ironic, since as a record store owner he's an esteemed taste arbiter, but he feels that he hasn't lived up to his potential, and that his actual life is just an audience recording of a concert he never gave. "Sex is about the only grown-up thing I know how to do; it's weird, then, that it's the only thing that can make me feel like a ten-year-old." I found that feeling of uncertainty perfectly relatable; same with his self-pity, his self-deprecation, and his retreat into meaningless reflexive listmaking. Laura dumps him as a way to get him to wake up, and though you could claim that that kind of dedication on her part is unrealistic, since all too often people simply give up, move on, and don't look back, let's not be too cynical: sometimes people really do go that extra mile for the person they love. Maybe the true difference between what people call "settling" and what they call "realizing that what you actually needed was right in front of you all along" is simply that in the latter case things eventually work out and in the former they just don't.

Laura is actually kind of a puzzle in the book, in that she seems oddly attached to this mope given their backstory. I wouldn't say that she's totally unrealistic, though, since that happens all the time. Isn't every great relationship undeserved? You can tell that Rob agrees, given how hurt he is by her dumping him. Even his rebound, a musician named Marie (from my hometown of Austin!) ends up reminding him of what he's lost, after their mutual attraction leads them to hook up: "Before we slept together, there was at least some pretense that it was something we both wanted to do, that it was the healthy, strong beginning of an exciting new relationship. Now all the pretense seems to have gone, and we're left to face the fact that we're sitting here because we don't know anybody else we could be sitting with." And that's what sets him off on his quest for closure. I personally feel like "closure" is bullshit, but you never know. Sometimes failed relationships just end; other times there's that ambiguity, that sense of incompleteness that leads to reaching out for some vague and nebulous affirmation of their own feelings. It depends on what the relationship meant to you, and he has a great analysis of his own feeling of helplessness after Laura leaves him, when he's being exceptionally petulant:

"You know the worst thing about being rejected? The lack of control. If I could only control the when and how of being dumped by somebody, then it wouldn't seem as bad. But then, of course, it wouldn't be rejection, would it? It would be by mutual consent. It would be musical differences. I would be leaving to pursue a solo career. I know how unbelievably and pathetically childish it is to push and push like this for some degree of probability, but it's the only thing I can do to grab any sort of control back from her."

Yeah: that desperate grabbing for any amount of power; anything to feel like something other than a victim. Breakups are ugly, especially for people who spend too much time inside their own heads: "Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship." There's a lot of good stuff in here about what you measure yourself against as a way of defining yourself: against your dreams, against your peers, against your parents. Particularly on that last one - I think many people feel like epigones when they look at their parents, like they somehow knew things that you don't, even when that plainly isn't the case. It's easy to feel like your life is in a permanent transitional phase, despite that being a contradiction in terms, when you aren't following a set path. In that light, he's returning to his exes as a way to orient himself, because even running back over the same ground again is movement, right?

And I just can't help but love a book that's so thoroughly saturated with great musical taste, with exactly the right mixture of condescension and simultaneous embarrassment at that same condescension. There's a great scene where he's clumsily half-flirting with a music journalist who is asking him what his top 5 records of all time are. This should be the ultimate softball question, since he's been preparing for this essentially his whole life. And he blows it! Right when he's trying to be cool, he stumbles over his answers and ends up spitting out a bunch of records that don't mean anything to him, and he has to call her a bunch of times to get her to change his answers - the exact opposite of cool. Music is how Rob tries to connect to people, categorize them, and even index his own life (I'd forgotten about that scene when he tries to organize his record collection "autobiographically" to make himself feel better), but that externalization of connection could be film, art, anything. In addition to lots of great discussion of lists and mixtapes (which thanks to services like Spotify are still a great way to impress girls with your taste), he even has a funny take on the classic chicken-and-egg question of sad people and sad songs:

"People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands, of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don't know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they've been listening to the sad songs longer than they've been living the unhappy lives."

There was one big thing that, now that I'm older, made me question the realism of the story. Yeah, I know it's silly to question the narrative logic of romantic comedies, but still, I don't know that I fully buy that he gets back together with Laura via her father's death. In real life, tragedies are as likely to destroy relationships as restore them, and given his behavior at the funeral, there were plenty of points for Laura to get sick of his shit and pursue any one of the millions of other people who would no doubt be available. Maybe it comes back to the question of deciding what's settling and what isn't: was that sort of very drawn-out breakup with lots of contact and interaction just their way of realizing what was really important, or was it poor writing/nerd wish fulfillment? Again, maybe you just have to judge your behavior by what works and what doesn't, the Benthamite utilitarian view instead of the Kantian deontological view of what works for you.

Or maybe you can just enjoy what is, again, the greatest romantic comedy about music fans ever written. This was good enough that I rewatched the movie while finishing it, and they absolutely nailed it, from the casting (Jack Black in particular is perfect as Barry) all the way down to the scene change from London to Chicago. It would actually probably make it onto my Top 5 Novel Adaptations list, if I had one. On a side note, Hornby wrote an extremely negative review of Radiohead's Kid A, which I really love, in the New Yorker titled "Beyond The Pale". You can find it online, but it absolutely drips with a kind of condescension that's somewhat shocking from a guy who wrote such a great book deflating exactly that kind of pompous attitude.

I also loved this line about obligatory "friends" you have to invite to places and am going to start using it immediately: "'I call 'em duck noires. Sort of a mixture of lame duck and bête noire. People you don't want to see but kinda feel you should.'" ( )
1 stem aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Rob is just.. such an unlikeable character, and not in a ‘love to hate’ kind of way. Laura deserves better. ( )
  crimsonraider | Apr 1, 2021 |
SUPERB book, could have been written about my life. Nick Hornby has a great insight into how the male mind works. Makes me want to open a record shop. ( )
  DavidCraddock | Mar 20, 2021 |
Not one of Hornby's finest books, but worth a read. ( )
  Timwindram | Feb 28, 2021 |
Questo, per me, è uno di quei libri benedetti che appaiono nella tua vita proprio nel momento in cui ne avevi bisogno.Insomma, non è che stessi vivendo chissà quale crisi pofonda, si trattava di uno di quegli attimi di smarrimento sentimental-esistenziale molto comune nella vita di una persona, ma questo libro mi sorprese...conteneva tutto ciò che avevo da sapere in quel momento, per di più esposto con lucidità e ironia. Ho imparato molto di più da Alta Fedeltà che da decine di conversazioni con decine di amici (in teoria) intelligentissimi, espertissimi e scaltrissimi. Non scherzo quando dico che la mia attuale visione del mondo, delle relazioni interpersonali e della mia vita non può prescindere da ciò che imparai da questo libro.
PS. se avete amici intelligentissimi, espertissimi e scaltrissimi, teneteveli stretti e non sostituiteli con libri...mi raccomando ;-))
( )
  JoeProtagoras | Jan 28, 2021 |
1-5 van 181 worden getoond (volgende | toon alle)
Happily, Hornby does not rely on pop-cultural allusion to limn his characters' inner lives, but uses it instead to create a rich, wry backdrop for them... Hornby is as fine an analyst as he is a funny man, and his book is a true original.
toegevoegd door Shortride | bewerkTime, Gina Bellafante (Oct 9, 1995)
 
Mr. Hornby captures the loneliness and childishness of adult life with such precision and wit that you'll find yourself nodding and smiling.
toegevoegd door Shortride | bewerkThe New York Times Book Review, Mark Jolly (Sep 3, 1995)
 
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Rob is de klagerige, jaloerse en cynische eigenaar van een matig lopend speciaalzaakje in grammofoonplaten in Noord-Londen. Popmuziek beheerst zijn leven en is in feite de reden dat al zijn relaties mislukken.

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2 edities van dit boek werden gepubliceerd door Penguin Australia.

Edities: 0140293469, 0141037350

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