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Book Review: A Long Way Down

Nick Hornby's gift for witty, cinematic prose lends itself to big-screen transformations, and A Long Way Down is no exception. Recently, Warner Brothers announced it would turn the 2005 novel into a movie produced by Johnny Depp. If you haven't had a chance to read this slightly sinister but hilarious novel, now's the perfect time, since the launching point for the whole sordid plot begins on New Year's Eve, when four strangers find themselves scheming to plunge to their deaths from the same London skyscraper.

Though the premise is morbid, A Long Way Down is less about death and more about learning to appreciate the absurdities of life. Craftily, Hornby manages to pull this off without the least bit of sentimentality or condescension, so


After the foursome decides to nix the whole suicide idea, the characters take turns narrating the group's story, and we learn what was so terrible in the first place. The constantly shifting perspectives, which follow the players as they reunite in cafes and on misguided holidays, are what make this book so captivating. There's a former TV show host named Martin, who loses his job and custody of his kids after a sex scandal, but his tone and take on the story is completely different from that of Maureen, whose only diversion is caring for her vegetable son.

The book's major weakness is that it could have been about one-third as long. But with its excesses of laugh-out-loud funny and crushingly human moments A Long Way Down is such a fast-paced read that you'll still be sorry when it's over.


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