Tessa: Nick Hornby is one of those writers that has the ability to make me laugh out loud. Hard. Page by page I chuckle. In About a Boy and High Fidelity Hornby has the ability to weave great narrative tales by bringing all of his sharp British wit and literary skills to create classically funny tales of modern life.
So I was looking forward to reading A Long Way Down thinking that nobody could do a treatment of four suicidal people better than Nick Hornby. It has all the makings of a great rollicking tale which combined with Hornby’s razor sharp humour could provide some kind of quirky look into the mind of the suicidal psyche.
Truthfully the first sixty or so pages deliver a good laugh out loud romp and I found myself eagerly waiting to find time to continue the read. But quickly the plot, or lack thereof and the personalities of the four people who contemplate death grow tiresome. In the end there is nothing compelling about any of the characters to make you want to continue the read. Martin, the disgraced breakfast television announcer, is the funniest of all the characters but his incessant shallowness and predictability make his humour quickly grow tiresome. Eighteen year old Jess is a complete jerk, JJ is stupid and Maureen dull. There you have it. There are some small moments that deliver some fine Hornby witticism but they’re few and far between, the plot self-conscious and overwrought, the usual cast of shallow characters offer little or no redeeming features that allowed us to love his other imperfect characters he has created in the past.
I’m a big fan of his and am not going to give up quite yet. I still think he has it in him to write another great quirky tale. Either that or a good re-read of his earlier books would be time well spent.