High Fidelity is a novel written by Nick Hornby and published on 1995-04-13. It was made into a movie in 2000 and a Broadway musical in 2006. The story revolves around Rob, an insecure music snob who has just broken up with his girlfriend Laura. Rob explains the history of his failed relationships and how they seem to have culminated into he and Laura splitting. At first, he feels like he can handle the breakup until he learns that Laura started seeing someone new almost immediately after the breakup!
After becoming a big fan of the film adaption, I decided to get the book. This was the first Nick Hornby novel I read, and I liked it so much, I started buying his other books.
I own a first edition US hard cover. I've read it and listened to the David Case audio book.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- I love how the book is framed, as a man narrating his life to the reader, but also partially to his ex-girlfriend.
- I love all the main characters. Rob is a wonderful character. He's clearly flawed in many ways typical to someone his age and class, but, despite his hangups, you still root for him. I like how open he is about his own personal problems, and his self-centeredness is relatable. Laura is a great character as well. When seen through the eyes of Rob, she seems a bit weak and too accepting of his bullshit, however, later in the book she properly defends herself and you see how strong she really is. Dick and Barry add a lot of comic relief; we all know people like both of them.
- I like the idea of working through your past failed relationships, discovering what went wrong, and learning from them, and I even like how Rob doesn't always learn the point he should learn, but at least it's something.
- There are a whole lot of really funny moments. In addition to several laugh out loud jokes, there are a lot of clever bits that caused me to chuckle.
- I appreciate all the various mentions to music. Even if I don't personally like the song or band, I acknowledge that some people would be into them.
- I love how the reunion isn't the end, but rather the start of Rob trying to figure out how to grow healthy for once, to actually make long term plans, and to care about others.
- I also like how Laura tricks Rob into becoming friends with people who have a terrible record collection, thereby destroying his philosophy of "it doesn't matter what you're like, but what you like."
- The book is a bit slow at times, and, compared to the film adaption, drags out certain points. Several minor scenes that don't really add much to the story could have been cut. This is a minor problem, most of the book is really interesting.
- Rob saying that he slept with Rosie because he was afraid of Laura dying seemed tacked on.
- "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."
- "What came first – the music or the misery? Did I listen to the music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person?"
- "I've committed to nothing...and that's just suicide...by tiny, tiny increments."
- "If you really wanted to mess me up, you should have got to me earlier."
- "I've been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains."
- "Is it wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection? It's not like collecting records is like collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles. There's a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colorful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music."
- "And before you judge, although you have probably already done so, go away and write down the four worst things you have done to a partner, even if - especially if - your partner doesn't know about them. Don't dress things up, or try to explain them; just write them down, in a list, in the plainest language possible. Finished? Ok, so who's the arsehole now?"
- "It would be nice to think that as I've got older times have changed, relationships have become more sophisticated, females less cruel, skins thicker, reactions sharper, instincts more developed. But there still seems to be an element of that evening in everything that happened to me since; all my other romantic stories seem to be a scrambled version of that first one."
- "Look at all the things that can go wrong for men. There’s the nothing-happening-at-all problem, the too-much-happening-too-soon problem, the dismal-droop-after-a-promising-beginning problem; there’s the size-doesn’t-matter-except-in-my-case problem, the failing-to-deliver-the-goods problem…and what do women have to worry about? A handful of cellulite? Join the club. A spot of I-wonder-how-I-rank? Ditto."
- "She thought I was...soulful, by which I think she means that I don't say much and I always look vaguely pissed off."
- "Read any women's magazine and you'll see the same complaint over and over again: men - those little boys ten or twenty or thirty years on - are hopeless in bed. They are not interested in "foreplay"; they have no desire to stimulate the erogenous zones of the opposite sex; they are selfish, greedy, clumsy, unsophisticated. These complaints, you can't help feeling, are ironic. Back then, all we wanted was foreplay, and girls weren't interested. They didn't want to be touched, caressed, stimulated, aroused; in fact, they used to thump us if we tried. It's not really very suprising, then, that we're not much good at all that. We spent two or three long and extremely formative years being told very forcibly not even to think about it. Between the ages of fourteen and twenty-four, foreplay changes from being something that boys want to do and girls don't, to something that women want and men can't be bothered with... The perfect match, if you ask me, is between the Cosmo woman and the fourteen-year-old boy."
- "What really matters is what you like, not what you are like."
- "I'm simply pointing out that what happens to us isn't the whole story. That I continue to exist even when we're not together."