Monday, August 24, 2009

Review by JD: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby


A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornsby

ISBN: 1-59448-193-8

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.

Amazon purchasing information: US/UK/Canada

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Amanda said...

I really need to read something by Nick Hornby, but he intimidates me for some reason.

Ink Obsession Designs said...

I think I will check it out!

John D said...

Hi Amanda - you should give him a try. This is the second of his books that I've read. He covers some tough personal situations but does it in a light way that makes for a good read and many chortles. He creates interesting and very human characters.

John D said...

To inkOBSESSIONdesigns - I'm pleased to hear that. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

Jenny said...

This sounds really good! My husband likes Nick Hornby but hasn't read this one yet. I have been wanting to read something by him.

John D said...

Hi Jenny. This might be a good start. Lots of nice dark humour. Very English!

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