A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornsby
Pages 333; paperback
Riverhead Books/Penguin, 2005
This is an excellent and most enjoyable book, especially if you like a quirky and unusual read. Immediately I read the cover, the set-up drew me right in and I wanted to read the rest of the book. How’s this for an opening to a story - four very different people with different backgrounds all decide, for a variety of reasons, that life is no longer worth living and that suicide is the only way out. But this is a funny book, despite the subject matter. So all four happen to choose the same way out, which is to jump from a tall building. And they all happen to choose the same building, which is popular with suicides because of its height and easy access. And they all choose the same night to jump, which is New Year’s Eve; apparently a popular time for suicides to happen.
So of course they congregate at the same time and place with the same purpose in mind, bump into each other, and the story goes on from there. They eventually decide not to jump, or at least not on that night, and despite having absolutely nothing in common (except suicide plans!) they form an odd little group and stumble towards helping each other out.
But the way ahead certainly isn’t straightforward and the group gets into a variety of painful or funny scrapes. The characters themselves are all oddballs, and at various times you feel like reaching into the book, grabbing them by the scruffs of the necks and telling them to get real, get reasonable, and get a life. No pun intended.
It’s a book that is full of wit, wry humor and charm. It’s nicely written and very easy to read. Bearing in mind the subject matter, this is quite an achievement. “Two thumbs up” as those annoying movie reviews say. Four stars I say.
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