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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.

Join The Conversation
yiddidea yiddidea 10 years
I am about 3/4 of the way through this book. It is very entertaining with a fun group of characters. I do agree that it is a tad bit too long.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 10 years
I haven't read this one - I loved "High Fidelity" but was kind of unimpressed with "About a Boy," and I absolutely HATED "How To Be Good." So I'm kind of reluctant to read another Hornby book. But maybe I'll give it a shot.
Nan-Einhart Nan-Einhart 10 years
Nick Hornby writes about some intriguing subjects, but this one was especially interesting. Each would-be suicide was unhappy in a way that was not even conceivable to each other one. Unhappiness is such a solitary pursuit. In spite of the subject matter, I liked this book very much. And yes, this time of year would be a good time to start it.
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