The Universe and Me

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A long way down

A few months ago I read the always entertaining author Nick Hornby’s latest novel, A Long Way Down. Although the subject matter is dark and should make for some depressing literature, he has a style of writing that made it thought-provoking and frequently funny. Four disparate lives are united one desperate night when they individually decide to jump off the same roof and meet each other. Each character tells his or her story in the colloquial first person, giving their views on life and the others. Here’s a passage that made me laugh out loud:

You should try and read stuff by people who’ve killed themselves! We started with Virginia Woolf, and I only read like two pages of this book about a lighthouse, but I read enough to know why she killed herself: She killed herself because she couldn’t make herself understood. You only have to read one sentence to see that. I sort of identify with her a bit, because I suffer from that sometimes, but her mistake was to go public with it. I mean, it was lucky in a way, because she left a sort of souvenir behind so that people like us could learn from her difficulties and that, but it was bad luck for her. And she had some bad luck, too, if you think about it, because in the olden days anyone could get a book published because there wasn’t so much competition. So you could march into a publisher’s office and go, you know, I want this published, and they’d go, Oh, OK, then. Whereas now they’d go, No, dear, go away, no one will understand you. Try Pilates or salsa dancing instead.


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