My review of Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down appears in today’s Baltimore Sun. I didn’t like the novel very much at all:
Nick Hornby’s first couple of novels, High Fidelity and About a Boy, installed him as part of the pop-culture firmament. He did three things very well in those books: He established ownership of a character type with wide appeal, the overgrown, callow, but well-meaning fanboy; he built protagonists with ample room to grow; and he wrote in an up-to-the-minute conversational style that proved screenplay-ready. In fact, the film versions in both cases made the books themselves seem almost dispensable.
As a recipe, this looked foolproof. Hornby’s best novels aren’t high art, but they are well-made stories that droves of readers have identified with. While he deserves credit for attempting to transcend that recipe in his next novels, How to Be Good and the newly released A Long Way Down, the results suggest that he shouldn’t throw away the cookbook just yet…
In other words, hold onto your twenty-five bucks.