Annie and Duncan fit together naturally, like jigsaw pieces, though Duncan’s passionate obsession with Tucker Crowe, the reclusive, tortured-genius song writer, has never left much time for anything more meaningful – marriage, kids, conversations about something other than Tucker Crowe and his disappearance after a mysterious incident in a nightclub toilet twenty years previously. Duncan is a dedicated Crowologist. Duncan spent his waking hours talking to people on-line about Tucker Crowe. A Crowe night on an internet radio station, a new article, a new album from former band-member, are subjects of long discussions. The bulk of content produced are of essays analysing lyrics, discussing influences, or conjecturing, apparently in exhaustibly about Crowe’s silence.
In fact, Annie’s starting to wonder whether she’s wasted 15 years on a bad relationship, stuck in a dull job in a dull town on England’s Bleak east coast called Gooleness.
She (Annie) wanted to feel unconditional love, rather than the faint conditional affection she could scrape together for Duncan every now and again; she wanted to be held by someone who would never question the embrace, the why or the who or the how long. There was another reason, too: she needed to know that she could have one (baby), that there was life in her. Duncan had put her to sleep, and in her sleep she’d been desexed.
The straw that breaks the camel back moment came when Tucker’s record company suddenly issue a stripped-down version of his most famous album, Juliet, Naked, Tucker’s first release for decades after his last hit album Juliet, and Annie just can’t see what’s good about it, or at least what’s better about it than the original, Duncan finds solace in bed with co-worker Gina – and Annie is at least liberated to throw him out.
But worse is to follow for Duncan: Annie is not alone in her opinion. After she posts a review on a fan website, she gets a response from a completely unlikely source, Tucker himself. The correspondence which follows is doubly satisfying: it turns out that not only is Tucker an expert like her on years of waster life, but she begins to realise what lies behind his long silence. And it certainly isn’t an incident in a nightclub toilet.
In fact, Tucker has been living as a recluse since leaving the pop scene. He has been dating and breeding. Tucker has been a useless father to four of his five children, and a useless husband to every single one of his wives, and a rubbish partner to every single one of his girl friends. Now in his fifties, Tucker is laden with troubles from his children from two continents whom he never spent time with, except Jackson; the fearful prospect of seeing his daughter, Grace; financial problems and health problems that has to do with his weak heart.
Sometimes Tucker was mystified by society’s obsession with the natural father. All his kids had been raised by competent mothers and loving step-fathers, so why did they need him? They (or their mothers) always talked about wanting to know where they came from and who they were, but the more he heard that, the less he understood it. His impression was that they always knew who they were.
This is my first Hornby book. But I can see Hornby’s talent for carving a total failure that you can laugh along with. Hornby writes brilliantly about the nature of creativity and obsession, and how two lonely people can gradually find each other. The novel is very contemporary, the online blogging and emails, the description of album, the wikipedia entry of Hornby, the paparazzi obsession of stalking a famous personality and silly things die-hard fans would do for their idols, the overrated appraisal of a crappy albums; it is all very believable and very funny.
Towards the middle it becomes weary. There are too much whinging and whining. So if Annie wants to get hinge with loser Tucker, go ahead, I can’t see there is any good that would come out of it! And sure enough, there wasn’t any good that came out of it.
My Verdict: 3/5
What I like about the book are the humour, the obsession, about wasted years and the emails that wrote with a heart. Unfortunately, a book that starts off in a high and ends with a low. Annie love life hasn’t improved, in fact she gotten herself into more mess, and she still kept her shrink appointments and spent £5 an hour on therapy. What a failure!
About the writer:
Nick Hornby (born 17 April 1957) is an English novelist and essayist. He is best known for the novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, and for the football memoir Fever Pitch. His work frequently touches upon music, sports, and the both aimless and obsessive natures of his protagonists.
Several of Hornby’s books have made the jump from page to screen. Hornby wrote the screenplay for the first, a 1997 British adaptation of Fever Pitch, starring Colin Firth. It was followed in 2000 by High Fidelity, starring John Cusack; this adaptation was notable in that the action was shifted from London to Chicago. After this success, About a Boy was quickly picked up, and released in 2002, starring Hugh Grant. An Americanized Fever Pitch, in which Jimmy Fallon plays a hopelessly addicted Boston Red Sox fan who tries to reconcile his love of the game with that of his girlfriend (Drew Barrymore), was released in 2005. It appears likely that A Long Way Down will also be adapted; Johnny Depp purchased film rights to the book before it was published.