Friday, December 11, 2009

With Roofers not Reindeer on Your Roof, You Need a Reading Escape

Yesterday at sunrise, I heard the tromping of boots on my roof. "Santa!" I thought. Alas, no, it was the roofers. I shouldn't say alas. I'm lucky to have roofers who actually show up--we've all heard horror stories.

Still, it's the time of year when we all need an escape. May I recommend books? Maybe you want a book that's smart, witty, and hard to put down (don't we all want that?). Nick Hornby's latest book, Juliet, Naked is just that book. We just discussed it in my book club, and it's one of those rare books that we all liked.

It's the story of an obsessed fan and what the Internet has done to art and for art. It's the story of a reclusive, retired (mostly) rock star and the women (and children) in his life. It's the story of what happens when the rock star and the girlfriend of the obsessed fan meet. It's simply wonderful.

I've liked all of Hornby's books, and this one is one of his finest. My book club all agreed on the strength of Hornby's skill when it comes to character development. I found the plot compelling too--I could see any number of ways the story was going, and I couldn't decide what would actually happen. The ending was satisfying.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

"One things about great art: it made you love people more, forgive them their petty transgressions. It worked in the way that religion was supposed to, if you thought about it." p. 46

"She'd probably had three or four epiphanies in her entire life, and she'd been either drunk or busy every time. What good was an epiphany then? You really needed one on a mountaintop a couple of hours beofre you were going to make a life-changing decision, but she couldn't recall ever having had these experiences singly, let alone in tandem." p. 223

"Most humans don't get to do work than's going to last. They sell shower curtain rings . . . . So it's not about what you do. It can't be, can it? It has to be about how you are, how you love, how you treat yourself and those around you, and that's where I get eaten up." p. 234

How do we live lives in sync with our values? How do we create great art that's going to last? How do we balance our obligation to our art with our obligations to the ones we love?

Yes, Hornby covers the great themes and gives us a readable, compelling story too. What a treat for your holiday season.

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