It took a while for me to warm to High Fidelity. The novel was slow going at the start and its representation of the inside of a guy’s head bordered on disturbing (is that how men really think?)! My desire to keep reading was purely driven by a morbid curiosity to find out whether Rob Fleming would fulfil his destiny and become the greatest loser of all time.
High Fidelity came out the winner though, slowly but surely drawing me in through superb prose, heartbreaking realism and every now and then a tantalising glimpse of how the hero might not be so much of a loser after all. Also, I love a story that can capture music without ever making a noise. High Fidelity gets two thumbs up.
The thing that grabbed me most was Rob’s little monologue about death:
“What happened to me was something like this: I saw, for the first time, how scared I am of dying, and of other people dying, and how this fear has prevented me from doing all sorts of things, like giving up smoking (because if you take death too seriously, nor not seriously enough, as I have been doing up till now, then what’s the point?), and thinking about my life, especially my job, in a way that contains a concept of the future (too scary, because the future ends in death). But most of all it has prevented me from sticking with a relationship, because if you stick with a relationship and your life becomes dependent on that person’s life, and then they die, as they are bound to do, unless there are exceptional circumstances, e.g. they are a character from a science fictioon novel… well you’re up the creek without a paddle, aren’t you? It’s OK if I die first, I guess, but having to die before someone else dies isn’t a necessity that cheers me up much: how do I know when she’s going to die? Could be run over by a bus tomorrow, as the saying goes, which means I have to throw myself under a bus today…
To me, it makes more sense to hop from woman to woman until you’re too old to do it anymore, and then you live alone and die alone and what’s so terrible about that, when you look at the alternatives?”