Re-reading High Fidelity

Posted on May 29, 2020 by Richard Goulter

I recently re-read Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity”.

I love this story.
It’s about a guy who’s a total music geek, and bit of a loser; and it’s a coming-of-age story as he ruminates over his romantic life.

One of the reasons I find the story fascinating is it’s narrated with the narrator’s stream-of-conscious.
I love stream-of-conscious narratives. (Or I haven’t read many bad ones, anyway).
Sometimes the narrator comes up with what sounds like insightful claims (like asking whether people listen to sad pop music because they’re sad, or whether they’re sad because they listen to sad pop music. Or … Or …). I can’t say I caught it the first time, but this is in-line with the main character’s personality.. the narrator’s mind comes up with all sorts of bullshit. – But (since it’s a coming-of-age story) the main character is immature, and never quite carries any of these thoughts through enough to improve himself.

I don’t often come across stories where the character is realistically miserable, but also charmingly redeemed.
(And, I guess, it’s also nice to see a character who is not very considerate, but not malicious either).

Another reason I love this story is the rumination over the previous rejections.
The narrator thinks way too much about the past, and (as he discovers) the way he thought about these times he got rejected didn’t really represent the reality of what occurred.

The movie “Definitely, Maybe” has (if you squint) similarities to this.
In “Definitely, Maybe”, the main character is getting divorced. The main character narrates his history of romantic relationships (to his daughter) to show how things went wrong.
And in “High Fidelity”, his girlfriend has just broken up with him, etc.
Albeit, it’s more apparent that “Definitely, Maybe” is a sweet story.

I didn’t catch it (or didn’t remember it) from the times I’d read the book years ago what his most-recent girlfriend saw in him. Said woman has a high-paying job (where our narrator does not), has many friends (where our narrator does not), etc. But she does explain it to him.

I’d say what I disliked the most, upon re-reading it, was that the coming-of-age aspect doesn’t come from an internal realisation of the character, but from a huge amount of external aid. (And not even just from reading a book telling him to make his bed).

Newer post Older post