Yup, I Read Now

Book Adventures-Nick Hornby Reading

adventures (super new)I just got home from the Nick Hornby book reading/signing/Q&A at the El Cerrito Plaza Barnes and Noble. It was fantastic and even though Dave Eggers is going to be accompanying Hornby on stage @ the Herbst Theater tomorrow night in the city (of course, it’s sold out), I definitely enjoyed the intimacy of tonight’s event. Hearing him read from Juliet, Naked changed some of my opinions of the book. There are subtle layers of humor that I may have overlooked or sped through when I was reading it on my own. Maybe in a few years I’ll read it again and be able to appreciate it on an entirely different level, which is an interesting thought considering the book’s plot.

Here’s the rundown:

-Hornby is v. proud of  An Education (he wrote the screenplay). I was under the impression that the source material was book length (something that I suppose could have been cleared up with a simple Google search), but apparently it was just a 10-page piece published in Granta. Like his novels (and I guess most British cinema), the film is dialogue heavy. I didn’t think that I could be any more excited about this movie than I already was, but tonight has put me on the brink of mind explosion. Peter Sarsgaard. Nick Hornby. This movie is going to be so awesome, I just know it (!) Thanks to the internet(s), there’s some Oscar buzz surrounding it and tonight while I was staring at Hornby, who seems to be a v. sweet guy, I was just thinking about how cool it would be if he were nominated for an Academy Award. Fingers crossed.

Here’s the trailer….

-His advise for writers=do 500 words a day, which doesn’t seem like much, but over three months you’ll have finished that novel, or at least reached a novely-length.

-He didn’t say anything bad about any of the films that have been adapted from his work (including the Farrelly Bros. helmed Fever Pitch). Like I said, he’s v. sweet.

-He’s short-ish.

-He’s a Dickens fan and says despite their length, the books have punch. As far as Dickens on film/TV goes, he recommends the recent adaptation of Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson.

-Anne Tyler is the writer who made him want to be a writer.

And in conclusion, yay for photos (or photo as the case may be).



Juliet, Naked


…was finished in two days. I suppose it wouldn’t have been too difficult to read in a day but I’d rented the Emmy-award winning Little Dorrit miniseries early last week and the pull of those first two discs was astonishingly strong. (My Nick Hornby fanaticism’s primary ingredient, it would seem, is weak sauce.) Andrew Davies is responsible for this incredible adaptation and after some light googling I discovered that he also adapted the Colin Firth, A&E version of Pride and Prejudice—which is, of course, the adaptation that all other Pride and Prejudice adaptations are measured against. Judging from the bit of Little Dorrit that I’ve just watched and the one other thing of his that I’ve seen, it would appear that Mr. Davies can do no wrong.

After watching the first half of the miniseries I turned back to Mr. Hornby’s book but all of those wonderful Dickens characters lingered in my mind. Although I was reading a decidedly modern novel wherein much of the conflict revolves around the internet(s), thoughts of all those soot covered Cockneys persisted.

Dickens appeals to my most primal entertainment needs, this very basic desire to experience a great story—one with twists, turns, romance, humor, and debtors’ prisons. Everything about his work takes me back to this really innocent place. For a start, my earliest contact with his world was via Oliver and Company and then in 9th grade when we did Great Expectations, much of it was read aloud in class.

No one reads aloud anymore!

I don’t know but for me at least, there’s just something very wholesome about reading aloud (even when what’s being read aloud involves elderly shut-ins catching on fire).

As I made my way through Juliet, Naked, I was already plotting my next read. Dickens(!) My plans were only solidified when one of the characters in the Hornby book turned out to be a Dickens fan.

So I finished the Hornby quickly. It was good. Not mind-blowing or anything, and definitely not as enjoyable as High Fidelity, but it wasn’t a total disappointment—my (dubious) allegiance to Hornby remains unaltered (or something). (I will say this, though: Because one of the three protagonists is a self-doubting artist type there were some meta undertones and I couldn’t help but think that Hornby was using this book as a way of preemptively justifying any of its shortcomings.)

Anyway, that was on Thursday and my next move was to purchase David Copperfield or Bleak House or whatever. But Jesus, those books are thick. With no grade on the line I don’t know that I’d have the motivation to finish one. I’m going to need a little time for mental preparation, to build up my reading endurance before I tackle one of those bad boys. Or maybe I’ll just chuck the idea all together, finish the last two discs of Little Dorrit, and then go see the new Jim Carrey 3D version of A Christmas Carol next month.


I’m currently reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem and I already like it more than The Fortress of Solitude. My initial impulse was to attribute this to its more traditional structure; it’s more straightforward and feels less ambitious than the other one, so it’s easier to get wrapped up in. But that’s not fair. I think it’s just as ambitious as Fortress but that ambition is less transparent.

Me and Mr. Hornby

iread (super new)My thing with Nick Hornby began senior year of high school when I read About a Boy. Up until then I’d only been reading the classics assigned to me in English class, and Hornby’s book was my first experience with adult contemporary fiction. Oscar Wilde was my favorite author at the time (mainly because I’d written the definitive 12-page-double-spaced-1-inch margined research paper on him and believed (though, I don’t think erroneously) that I was the preeminent 12th grade scholar on the man’s life and oeuvre); but after About a Boy it was clear that Hornby was making significant gains in the Amber’s-favorite-author department.

Years later, fresh out of college, I read High Fidelity. This initial reading prompted a second and I found myself underlining passages (this is something that I probably shouldn’t have done since it was a library copy (then again, I’d stolen the book so it was a perfectly all right thing to do)).

I read Fever Pitch, a book that I’d been resisting because of its non-fictiony-ness, while I was working on an autobiography project for grad school. I thought that it might help me figure out how to articulate my own “life story” and yes, it sort of did that, but really it’s noteworthy because it ended up being the book that cemented Hornby’s place in my heart. He discusses a subject that I know and care very little about—English football—and still, the book rates exceptionally high on the can’t-put-it-down-ability scale.

His writing is so fluid, so funny; he’s extremely clever but never opaque. He’s a celebrated author but admits to not being very well read. That brand of honesty is endearing. I also like the fact that he’s bald.

So I say that Nick Hornby is my favorite author but my own—hopefully endearing confession—is that I haven’t read everything he’s written. I didn’t read How to Be Good because I heard that it wasn’t, well, very good, I hadn’t touched any of the stuff he’d written for The Believer, and Slam, his young adult novel, was purchased but then sidelined when I entered grad school and no longer had time for casual reading. In anticipation for this, Juliet, Naked day (!), his appearance at the El Cerrito Barnes and Noble next week, and the release of An Education on October 16, I decided to attempt to fill in a few of these holes. I finished Slam in about a day. It was a pretty mellow read and I think the perfect follow-up to Lethem’s dense Fortress. After that I bought Housekeeping vs. The Dirt—also light, easily digestible, easily read at work with little to no subterfuge.

I’ve just spent the entire day walking around San Francisco—I am completely insane and walked up Lombard Street from Embarcadero and then down to Aquatic Park—so I am exhausted and don’t think I’ll be cracking open the new one tonight. Luckily, I have tomorrow off and have definitely fit enough exercise into this one day to last me until the weekend. Tomorrow is therefore the official start of Juliet, Naked Day.

Happy Juliet, Naked Day!
September 30, 2009, 3:10 am
Filed under: Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby | Tags: ,