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A Long Way Down PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: A Long Way Down
Author: Nick Hornby
Publisher: Published May 2nd 2006 by Riverhead Books (first published June 7th 2005)
ISBN: 9781594481932
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line. Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is Amer In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line. Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives. In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances. Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life. What's your jumping-off point? Maureen Why is it the biggest sin of all? All your life you're told that you'll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on. And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all. Oh, I can see that it's a kind of queue-jumping. But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut. Or sometimes they say "Excuse me, I was here first." They don't say "You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity." That would be a bit strong. Martin I'd spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: "He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed." And then you read the story about the poor bastard: His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he'd lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before . . . Hello, Mr. Coroner? I'm sorry, but there's no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I'd say he got it just right. Jess I was at a party downstairs. It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space-out reggae. At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it-Happy New Year to you, too. You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you'd still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve. And I wasn't the happiest person in London anyway. Obviously. JJ New Year's Eve was a night for sentimental losers. It was my own stupid fault. Of course there'd be a low-rent crowd up there. I should have picked a classier date-like March 28, when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or November 25 (Nick Drake). If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like-minded souls, rather than hopeless f*ck-ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant.

30 review for A Long Way Down

  1. 4 out of 5

    Malbadeen

    jump already! and take the book with you.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jayson

    (A-) 80% | Very Good Notes: Despite its grim premise, it’s frequently laugh-out-loud. Though I’m not a fan of the shifting first-person perspective.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Raych

    Oh popular authors, I'm always so nervous about you. I mean, on the one hand I always figure that if so many people like you, there must be something good about you. But then, so many people like harlequin romances, and Dane Cook, and Big Brother. People are idiots. Even when they aren't, they can't always be trusted. My friend Amy actually loved Confessions of a Slacker Wife, and my husband really liked The Innocent Man, a.k.a. Was John Grisham Always This Bad And I Just Didn't Notice?, and my Oh popular authors, I'm always so nervous about you. I mean, on the one hand I always figure that if so many people like you, there must be something good about you. But then, so many people like harlequin romances, and Dane Cook, and Big Brother. People are idiots. Even when they aren't, they can't always be trusted. My friend Amy actually loved Confessions of a Slacker Wife, and my husband really liked The Innocent Man, a.k.a. Was John Grisham Always This Bad And I Just Didn't Notice?, and my friend Karen lists as her top three books ever Eli Wiesel's Night (awesome), The Kite Runner (also awesome), and friggin Million Little Pieces (total crap). These are bright, funny people. I voluntarily hang out with them. But they actually enjoy books that are total tripe, so the fact that people on the whole enjoy Nick Hornby's books means nothing. I enjoyed the hell out of Long Way Down. Seriously, I did not expect to love it this much. And then a friend asked me what I was reading, and all I had to say was 'This book about four people who, separately, decide to throw themselves off a tall building on New Years Eve, but then they all get up there and, hey, there's three other people up here. Well, this is awkward' and now she's going to read it, because how hilarious is that? What a ridiculous and somehow totally believable premise! Ok, so it's New Years Eve, and Martin (because he is an alcoholic ex-morning-show-host who has been in all the papers lately for sleeping with a fifteen-year-old who, to his credit, told him she was sixteen, which isn't exactly illegal, but whose wife left him for it anyways, and took their two kids), Maureen (because her son Matty is a vegetable, always has been and always will be, and she hasn't done anything worth mentioning in the last twenty years besides care for him and become socially awkward), JJ (because his band broke up and his girlfriend left him, although the reason he initially gives is that he has CCR, a totally fictional disease and also a wicked 60's rock band) and Jess (because she has family and relationship problems, but mostly just because she is young and nuts and it seemed like a good idea at the time) have all lugged themselves to the top of Toppers' House with the intention of doing themselves in. But then, how do you toss yourself off a building when there's other people hanging around? No one wants to be the first, and for sure no one wants to be the last. So they get to chatting and eventually decide to go solve Jess's most immediate problem, which has something to do with a boy and an explanation. That solved, they begin finding other things to do, other things to tether them to the earth and keep them from jumping. Oh sure, they still talk about it, and even arrange to meet back on Toppers' on Valentine's Day so they can finally give themselves the old heave-ho. But with one thing and another, it's really hard to find time to kill yourself, you know? At one point, Maureen (she of the vegetable son) says, 'You'd think this would be the story of four people who met because they were unhappy, and wanted to help each other. But it hadn't been...it had been the story of four people who met because they were unhappy and then swore at each other.' And it never changes. Martin begins the book by sitting on Jess's head (to prevent her from jumping, which is ostensibly kind but kind of a rough way to go about things) and the last page finds her listing all the ways that he's failed at life. And yet, even though the characters are perverted (Martin), coarse (Jess), lazy (JJ), and really insurmountably lame (Maureen), and none of them says more than two kind words to each other the entire 333 pages, they're terribly endearing. It's their complete reluctance to be together combined with their absolute need for each other that sets the stage for all of the hilarious moments (of which there are many) and all of the poignant ones (of which there are mercifully few). Nothing really is solved, and no one lives happily ever after, but I closed the book with such a sense of sweet satisfaction. I never do this, because I think it's cheating, but I'm going to steal a line from the New York Times Book Review: 'Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once.' Hear hear. (review originally posted on www.booksidoneread.blogspot.com)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jr Bacdayan

    I’ve been down, I don’t wanna say depressed. I don’t wanna use the term lightly. There are lots of people with real problems, people diagnosed with clinical depression but I’m not one of those. I’m just a university student with an unpredictable proclivity for melancholia. Sure, I’m a little bit melodramatic at times. But, hey! Who isn’t? And when you feel a bit down in the dumps sometimes you need something relatable and so I gave this a go. Do you know that feeling when you’re stuck in a long b I’ve been down, I don’t wanna say depressed. I don’t wanna use the term lightly. There are lots of people with real problems, people diagnosed with clinical depression but I’m not one of those. I’m just a university student with an unpredictable proclivity for melancholia. Sure, I’m a little bit melodramatic at times. But, hey! Who isn’t? And when you feel a bit down in the dumps sometimes you need something relatable and so I gave this a go. Do you know that feeling when you’re stuck in a long bus ride with friends or you stay over at a close friend’s house and you talk about meaningful things all night? That’s the feel I kind of got from this book. The kind of feeling that shows you even smack talk can give warmth and fuck yous are really I care for yous. The story is told between four narrators at a conversational level that really sets the mood of the novel. These four people find themselves atop the same tower at New Years Eve planning to commit suicide. Unsurprisingly, they postpone, get to talking and somehow their differences in character causes their interactions to be a bit comical. It’s really amazing to see how Nick Hornby is able to balance the tightrope between comical and relatable. Obviously there’s something gooey that pulls you in but there’s also enough humor to make you stay. What I really appreciated about A Long Way Down is its heartfelt tone. It could have easily been overtly dramatic and begging but it refused to look at suicide that way. It was playful without being offensive, and had just the right amount of crankiness for something with such a sensitive topic. It also doesn’t hurt that most of the characters are British, cause those people have a lot of attitude. A bizarre ball of humanity, fun, and wisdom this is. This book dealt with the issues of depression and suicide in a really fascinating manner. It presented four different characters, with four different circumstances. I guess it wants to say that each person has their own story, they have their own problems, and consequently their own journeys. But what this book emphasized is togetherness and company when battling these problems. These four people didn’t have anyone they can turn to, and so by some weird act of fate, they found each other. Sometimes all you need is someone to be with, not even to talk to, but just knowing that someone is there for you, that can be a big relief. The four of them drew strength from each other. Maybe that’s all there is to a meaningful life: good company. You know that feeling when you’ve been traveling a few hours with your friends and you’ve had too much fun talking about stuff you don’t want the ride to end? Maybe life’s like that. Maybe finding the right people to enjoy the ride with will make you stay. Maybe that’s enough of a reason to take the long way down.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Josh Feinzimer

    I didn't get into Hornby for the same reason as everyone else, (they like Jon Cusak in High Fidelity). A Long Way Down was recommended to me by a friend and I needed a light read for the summer so I picked it up. I have never actually laughed out loud while reading a book until I read this one. Running With Scissors was the closest I came, but Augusten Burroughs was such an unrealistic and absurd character, (which is ironic because he was based on a real person), that it seemed too ridiculous to I didn't get into Hornby for the same reason as everyone else, (they like Jon Cusak in High Fidelity). A Long Way Down was recommended to me by a friend and I needed a light read for the summer so I picked it up. I have never actually laughed out loud while reading a book until I read this one. Running With Scissors was the closest I came, but Augusten Burroughs was such an unrealistic and absurd character, (which is ironic because he was based on a real person), that it seemed too ridiculous to find laugh-out-loud funny. Hornby's characters were genuine and honest. In my third year of college, after changing my major for the third time, I studied Psychology. I received a more realistic depiction of depression from this story than I found in any of my textbooks that entire semester. If you've ever had a bad day, a bad week or even a bad year, you can surely identify with the characters in this book. I identified with the American rockstar because what young person growing up in this country doesn't aspire to be famous? For me, it was professional sports, but the thought process was identical: strike it rich, score with hot groupies and rub it in everyone's face who never believed in you... I also enjoyed this book because the ending is not wrapped with a nice little bow, as any book about suicide should steer clear of. The TV personality learns at the end that they (each of the main characters) had made mistakes that they couldn't ever have back. But the key to going on with your life is finding a little something in each day that makes you want to experience the next.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Clay

    This book, as many others, is not for everyone. I can completely understand that many people find those characters annoying and the whole story pointless. Nevertheless I am of the opinion that this book can give you hope. Of course this seems to be a silly thing to say considering the topic and all those miserable characters. But let me explain. Apparently Johnny Depp called the characters some of the most outstanding he's ever had the pleasure of reading. And I can agree. They're all really fuc This book, as many others, is not for everyone. I can completely understand that many people find those characters annoying and the whole story pointless. Nevertheless I am of the opinion that this book can give you hope. Of course this seems to be a silly thing to say considering the topic and all those miserable characters. But let me explain. Apparently Johnny Depp called the characters some of the most outstanding he's ever had the pleasure of reading. And I can agree. They're all really fucked up, but also lovable. Sometimes I find myself grabbing the book just to read a page or another to have one of them accompany me. Even though they're really, like REALLY, fucked up they are also absolutely hilarious. Especially Martin. He's so bitter but extremely funny. And I think that the most important thing about this book, apart from the great writing, is that you learn to look at situations with much more humour. You could have easily written a real downer with the same characters. But you look at things in a different way. It's also remarkable that in fact hardly anything happens that makes their life better, but they have each other and you have them too in a certain way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    [warning: minor spoilers + suicide mentions + statutory rape] edit: You know what, this book doesn't deserve my mercy. I really hated it and it still makes me angry whenever I think about it. I'm going to lower my rating to 1 star. I had to read this book for college, and when I read the synopsis, I thought it seemed quite good. I liked the idea, but the characters completely ruined this for me and not much happened as well. These characters are VERY PROBLEMATIC! Let's have a look at some quotes th [warning: minor spoilers + suicide mentions + statutory rape] edit: You know what, this book doesn't deserve my mercy. I really hated it and it still makes me angry whenever I think about it. I'm going to lower my rating to 1 star. I had to read this book for college, and when I read the synopsis, I thought it seemed quite good. I liked the idea, but the characters completely ruined this for me and not much happened as well. These characters are VERY PROBLEMATIC! Let's have a look at some quotes that pissed me off: JJ: “Suicide wasn’t invented for people like this. It was invented for people like Virginia Woolf and Nick Drake. And me. Suicide was supposed to be cool.” I hope I don't even need to explain what's wrong with this! Maureen: “My own feeling about JJ, without knowing anything about him, was that he might have been a gay person, because he had long hair and spoke American. A lot of Americans are gay people, aren’t they? I know they didn’t invent gayness, because they say that was the Greeks. But they helped bring it back into fashion. Being gay was a bit like the Olympics: it disappeared in ancient times, and then they brought it back in the twentieth century. Anyway, I didn’t know anything about gays, so I just presumed they were all unhappy and wanted to kill themselves.” Are you kidding me?! First of all, no one INVENTED being gay! Second of all, being gay was never "out of fashion", it was (and in some places still is) taboo, so people didn't talk about it! And just because he is American and, according to you, looks gay, doesn't mean he is. AND NOT ALL LGBTGA+ PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY! Oh my God, I cannot believe how ignorant Maureen is, I can't believe she has been on Earth her whole life, not Mars or something! JJ: “Oh, is that right? And this from the girl who can’t deal with being dumped.” So JJ makes up an illness and says he is dying, because he is ashamed of the real reason why he wants to kill himself. He wants to commit suicide because his band broke up and his girlfriend dumped him. Jess is also depressed because her boyfriend left her. SO JJ IS JUDGING HER FOR HER REASON, WHILE IT'S THE SAME AS HIS?! Hypocrite! Maureen: “I only ever had intercourse with one man, and I only had intercourse with that one man once, and the one time in my entire life I had intercourse produced Matty. What are the chances, eh?” The book I've read before this HAS THE EXACT SAME TROPE, so no, it's pretty common I guess. Why are female characters who are "good", sexually inexperienced? Destroy the idea that women can't be sexual in order to be good and likeable! Martin: “A few years ago, Cindy joined one of those dreadful reading groups, where unhappy, repressed middle-class lesbians talk for five minutes about some novel they don’t understand, and then spend the rest of the evening moaning about how dreadful men are.” Girls, enlighten me, are we all repressed middle-class lesbians who moan about how dreadful men are? No, I don't thinks so MARTIN! Stop being so sexist! He judges everyone else based on a stereotype that is so incorrect. JJ: “but when you get music rage, you’re carrying out the will of God, and God wants these people dead.” JJ seriously is a hipster avant la lettre. Just because you listen to rock music, doesn't mean you are better than other people! Martin: “I was recognized once or twice, and ended up wearing JJ’s baseball cap pulled down over my eyes, which depressed me. I am not a baseball-cap sort of a chap, and I abhor people who wear any sort of headgear during dinner.” This book deals with depression and suicide, and you choose to use depression in this context?! Seriously? Oh yes Martin, you should totally commit suicide because you have to wear a baseball cap... omg. Martin: “I was not a criminal, not really;” YES YOU ARE!!!! You had sex with a fifteen year old girl while you are over forty years old!!! You are a pedophile! And I don't care that it would have been legal if she was a 100 days older or that he didn't know, it's DISGUSTING! And I was so disappointed in class that a lot of people don't think this way. Some thought Martin didn't do anything wrong because the girl wanted to have sex and he didn't know her age. FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRLS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED MORE RESPONSIBLE THAN MIDDLE AGED MEN! Martin should have known better, stop victim blaming! Martin: “I have come to the conclusion that no one who earns more than, say, seventy-five thousand pounds a year should never be sent to jail, because the punishment will always be more severe than the crime. You should just have to see a therapist, or give some money to charity, or something.” How self-absorbed can someone be? Do you really think it's a punishment for someone who has tons of money to give some of it to charity?! You shouldn't commit a crime if you can't handle the consequences, regardless the amount of money you have! Martin: “They’d done nothing at all, and it was not difficult to imagine that they would continue to do nothing at all, and they made me look and feel like a world leader who runs a multinational company in the evenings and a scout troop at weekends.” This guy had a breakfast TV show! A BREAKFAST TV SHOW! Get off your high horse man! Martin: “I was imprisoned a) due to entrapment, and b) because society’s attitudes to teenage sexuality are outmoded.” It's not about teenagers having sex, you idiot! It's about a middle aged man practically raping a fifteen year old! Martin: “one of my daughters (and I’m sorry to say that I don’t know which one)” This guy is talking shit about his ex-wife all the time because she doesn't want him to see their daughters, but seriously, HE DOESN'T DESERVE TO SEE THEM, HE CAN'T EVEN TELL THEM APART!!!!! Okay, I know, this review is very ranty, BUT I HAVE SO MUCH ISSUES WITH IT! This book made me want to kill someone, particularly, Martin! This is fiction, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of privileged white men who think just like him, and that makes me sick! I only liked Jess. But her chapters were torture, they were written like this: "I'm like... and then he was like... and then I was like....". It's not enjoyable to read that. It's also stereotypical of the writer to assume that all teenagers talk like that. She's the only reason I didn't give this one star though: “In other words Martin, were not tolerant of my culture, which is more of a drinking and drug-taking and shagging sort of a culture than his culture. I like to think that I’m respectful of his. I don’t tell him that he should get pissed up and fucked up on drugs and pick up more girls. So he should be more respectful of mine. He wouldn’t tell me to eat pork if I was Jewish, so why should he tell me not to do the other stuff?”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Boy, is there anyone who has offered up more stinkers than Nick flippin' Hornby. And, was he so great to begin with? Even his better, earlier works were marginally good. Nothing life changing. Which is kinda the point of why he's so awful: he is intentionally trying to be life changing in every book, essay, magazine column or whatever. He thinks he can somehow find the right prose combination for some idea or mindset to click and for it to change one's life ... much like these things do to chara Boy, is there anyone who has offered up more stinkers than Nick flippin' Hornby. And, was he so great to begin with? Even his better, earlier works were marginally good. Nothing life changing. Which is kinda the point of why he's so awful: he is intentionally trying to be life changing in every book, essay, magazine column or whatever. He thinks he can somehow find the right prose combination for some idea or mindset to click and for it to change one's life ... much like these things do to characters in his books. The epiphany is Hornby's White Whale. And he didn't catch him in "A Long Way Down." The problems with "A Long Way Down": 1. There isn't one likable character. It revolves around for seemingly different people all wanting to throw themselves from a building on New Years Eve. And you kinda wish they would've. They don't. 2. Unfocused. My first impressions of the book, before actually reading it, I thought it took place entirely on the roof of the building. Instead, it chronicles the knucklehead goings on of these nitwits as they slowly realize that there are a billion reasons why they should live, and only like one or two why they shouldn't. 3. Hornby is about as pretentious as they come. This isn't the first time he's taken on suicide, but to build a whole book around it and never really answer any questions, come to any conclusions. Sure, the characters don't kill themselves, but we really never find out why. One character feigns a deadly disease. Why not give him a real disease? Give him something to die for. It was pretty clear that none of the characters were never actually going to kill themselves. And the lack of that possibility dulls any teeth the book had, or could have had.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

    I may have forgotten how to do this entirely, so bear with me! 4 Unexpected Stars A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby was a surprising read for me. Not only did I find it unique for the genre/sub-genre itself; but I also found it surprising how much I enjoyed reading it. There is plenty of evidence on my “read” shelf of the fact that suicide related books generally do little to nothing for me (excepting The Virgin Suicides). As you can probably surmise, this is a story which revolves around that incr I may have forgotten how to do this entirely, so bear with me! 4 Unexpected Stars A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby was a surprising read for me. Not only did I find it unique for the genre/sub-genre itself; but I also found it surprising how much I enjoyed reading it. There is plenty of evidence on my “read” shelf of the fact that suicide related books generally do little to nothing for me (excepting The Virgin Suicides). As you can probably surmise, this is a story which revolves around that incredibly difficult subject. However, contrary to many books of its sub-genre (is it even a sub-genre?) it glorifies neither death nor life, which I found refreshing. The characters within it are not always likeable, indeed one in particular I find overall detestable, or even relatable. They simply are. And that, as I said, is extremely refreshing. I remember writing some philosophical line, in some random musing that may or may not have been intended as a beginning to a novel, which said: When we say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, we forget that this is only true in hindsight when the distance of time has dulled the edges of that pain. At the time no one wants to hear this statement that everyone seems to want to say, because it isn’t even true at that point. It isn’t even a loss, it’s still a losing not yet finite. “ If you're old and happy, I can imagine that you'll smile to yourself when you hear me going, he broke my heart. You'll remember someone who broke your heart, and you'll think to yourself, Oh yes, i remember how that feels. But you can't, you smug old git. Oh you'll remember feeling sort of plesantly sad. You might remember listening to music and eating chocolates in your room, or walking along the embankment on your own, wrapped up in a winter coat and feeling lonely and brave. But can you remember how with every mouthful of food it felt like you were biting into your own stomach? Can you remember the taste of red wine as it came back up and into the toilet bowl? Can you remember dreaming every night that you were still together, that he was talking to you gently and touching you, so that every morning when you woke up you had to go through it all over again? ” The four main characters who meet on the roof in this novel are all there for different reasons. A criminal, an artist, a rebel and a mom. Two of them are there over fame once had and now lost, one of them is there for the dream of love destroyed and the last is there because she doesn’t even know how to dream….. It’s a compelling, interesting and often frustrating read, that I found by turns unsettling and hilarious.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I'm a Nick Hornby fan. And it's more than just enjoying his writing; I have a warm and fuzzy affection for him. So even when one of his books fails to utterly delight and transport me (How to Be Good, for example), I'm still on his side. Michiko Kakutani clearly has no such affection for Hornby. Her review of A Long Way Down is savage. Her chief complaint is that the book contrives to arrive at an implausibly sappy conclusion. Which is odd, because I think the book admirably avoids easy answers I'm a Nick Hornby fan. And it's more than just enjoying his writing; I have a warm and fuzzy affection for him. So even when one of his books fails to utterly delight and transport me (How to Be Good, for example), I'm still on his side. Michiko Kakutani clearly has no such affection for Hornby. Her review of A Long Way Down is savage. Her chief complaint is that the book contrives to arrive at an implausibly sappy conclusion. Which is odd, because I think the book admirably avoids easy answers or cloying sentimentality. True, it begins with a colossal coincidence: Four people climb to the top of the same building with the thought of a suicidal plummet. Of course, once Maureen taps Martin on the shoulder, and once they see teen-age Jess taking a run for the parapet, and once JJ arrives with pizza, they can't really jump to their deaths, can they? Instead they munch a few slices and decide to humor Jess by helping her track down her "ex-boyfriend," Chas, who she claims not to have been stalking, unless endless phone calls and unexpected visits to his workplace constitute stalking. I didn't find it difficult to roll with the premise, in part because the novel is told in rotating first person, first Martin, then Maureen, then Jess, then JJ. As you step into each person's shoes, it's not too difficult to understand why they might mull ending it all, and why a random collision with a stranger might give each one pause. Kakutani accuses Hornby of coralling the characters into a touchy-feely support group, but that's exactly what they aren't. None of them have much in common beyond their suicidal thoughts, and even those are different shades of blue. Jess is just mad, all impulse and ignorance and id. Martin has royally fucked up, an ill-fated fling with a coke-snorting 15-year-old landing him in the clink and out of his family and job. Maureen is sadled with a disabled son and a life devoid of life. And JJ may claim to be dying of "CCR," but his real problem is an addiction to rock 'n' roll and his inability to score a fix now that his band has dissolved. There aren't easy answers. Jess's missing sister isn't going to reappear. Jess won't be hit with a sudden wave of sanity. Maureen's son isn't going to recover (or die). Martin can't undo the damage he's done, or even quickly become the type of person who won't cock up his life so badly. And JJ isn't about to discover a new purpose in life, like caring for Maureen's vegetable son or teaching underprivileged kids to play the guitar. There's no redemptive power of love on display. And the four members of the ad hoc support group never particularly like one another. So Michiko and I will just have to be at opposite ends of the spectrum on this one. How do people, like, not curse? How is it possible? There are these gaps in speech where you just have to put a "fuck." I'll tell you who the most admirable people in the world are: newscasters. If that was me, I'd be like, "And the motherfuckers flew the fucking plane right into the Twin Towers." How could you not, if you're a human being? Maybe they're not so admirable. Maybe they're robot zombies.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book almost deserved one star. The only thing that saved it from being a complete and utter waste of my time was that Nick Horny writes the occasional very witty passage, and there were two (count them, two) observations that I found actually interesting. So that totals about five pages that I actually enjoyed. The rest was quintessential fluffy drivel, which does have its place, but not when the book is discussing suicide, the meaning of life (or the lack thereof), and other such Profound T This book almost deserved one star. The only thing that saved it from being a complete and utter waste of my time was that Nick Horny writes the occasional very witty passage, and there were two (count them, two) observations that I found actually interesting. So that totals about five pages that I actually enjoyed. The rest was quintessential fluffy drivel, which does have its place, but not when the book is discussing suicide, the meaning of life (or the lack thereof), and other such Profound Topics. The multiple point-of-view narrations could have added a very interesting aspect to exploring suicide and its aftermath, except for the fact that they pretty much all had the same point of view and the same voice -- Hornby's. Every time any character made a witty joke or a clever observation, it could have just of easily come from the other characters, and you got the distinct impression that Hornby had been having a pint with his mates, made some witty comment about T.V. announcers or quiz shows, and thought, "Nick old bloke, write that one down. Your going to want to put that in your next book!" It was fine that the narrator in High Fidelity was a Hornby stand in, but when the 16 year old punk-rich girl, the middle-aged T.V. host, the 50 year old woman with a disabled son, and the fallen rock star are ALL Hornby stand ins it gets a bit much. Okay, some of this might be considered "Spoilers" so beware (I'm not calling them spoilers, cause there's nothing to spoil, but there you are). To start, the premise is both ridiculous yet tediously predictable: four people meet on a roof to kill them selves! Who wants to bet they DON'T jump? Who wants to bet the improbably become entangled in each other's lives? Who wants to bet they end up improbably helping one another learn Important Truths about Themselves and Life? Who wants to bet that, when they meet up in 90 days on the roof to jump, none of them kill themselves, because they now all want to live? Who wants to bet that they all get sort of Warm, Fuzzy, Life-Affirming Endings, even if one or two are Extremely Deep in that they learn No Meaning is The Meaning? Not that I want to spoil anything, but anyone taking those bets is very likely to win. The ending was truly worse than I had expected. It was good for a few chuckles, but then so are ZIggy and Garfield, yet I avoid them on a daily basis. It might have only taken me a week of twice-daily 20 minute bus-rides to finish this, but it was still a waste of time -- I could have been reading vampire romance manga.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kat O

    I just read this book in two days. It was great. The story is told from four perspectives, and because of the great writing by Hornby you can't set it down mid chapter. You want to race through the chapters to complete each character's thoughts and the picture each one is painting of the same storyline. What a great concept too, four strangers meet and share a suicidal moment, and end up sharing more because of meeting each other. Each character was hilarious in their own right, which was also gr I just read this book in two days. It was great. The story is told from four perspectives, and because of the great writing by Hornby you can't set it down mid chapter. You want to race through the chapters to complete each character's thoughts and the picture each one is painting of the same storyline. What a great concept too, four strangers meet and share a suicidal moment, and end up sharing more because of meeting each other. Each character was hilarious in their own right, which was also great, suicide humor is top notch apparently. I like that Hornby was willing to risk making light of death and people's depression. It made me laugh out loud, and then suck in a breath or two when a point was made that struck a chord of sobering truth with me. Hornby refers to a lot of pop culture that was easy to identify with for me, making it even more relevant. He makes readers realize that life is sad, it's hard, it's complicated, but it's also joyous and hilarious, and we have to take it for what it is...for whatever it is you can make of it. Life is so hilarious that I made an ass out of myself in public while reading this book (because I was laughing so loud and embarrassingly).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    I'm such a freakin' fence rider. I can see why people would love this book. I can see why people would loathe this book. But can I pick one side or the other myself? No. Heck, I can't pick out pizza toppings or ice cream flavors, so why should I be able to figure out whether to give this book one star or five? I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way about reviewing books... I feel so isolated. Four people decide to kill themselves and go to the local suicide hotspot on the suicide night o I'm such a freakin' fence rider. I can see why people would love this book. I can see why people would loathe this book. But can I pick one side or the other myself? No. Heck, I can't pick out pizza toppings or ice cream flavors, so why should I be able to figure out whether to give this book one star or five? I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way about reviewing books... I feel so isolated. Four people decide to kill themselves and go to the local suicide hotspot on the suicide night of the year, New Year. Upon seeing others up there and making some interesting/vulgar/half-hearted/deceitful introductions they decide to postpone their introductions with death for a while. So, the book's not really plot driven. But I never really felt like it was character driven either. I can't think of a single character that I... ummm... wait. I can't think of a single character. That can't be a good thing in a character driven book. So we've got these four forgettable characters coming together to deal with their crappy lives. Ah, but crappy lives, that's something we can all relate to. Let me clear things up, my life is basically perfect. I've got a great family, a great home, and a job I love. But I bet everybody has something in them that says, "yeah... but if I only had this..." Not that those desires are enough to make us suicidal, besides everybody has had crappy moments in life, otherwise what allows us to appreciate the good? I wanted to like this book more. I want to give it a five star review, but the more I think about it, (and I've sat here... just sat here... thinking/daydreaming for like 4 minutes now) the more I'm wondering if the only reason I like it at all is because I'm supposed to and because Nick Hornby just collaborated with Ben Folds on a really tight album... in one song Hornby voice-overs how Dickens created over 13,000 characters - a character a day - and what's Hornby done? Dropped the kids off at school, listened to The National album, and played a stupid computer game... "that's why I'm not Dickens... kids." That made me like Hornby a little more, but I'm not sure that it made me like his book any more. Maybe he could blame my not giving his book 5 stars on his kids. Or maybe I could blame it on mine. Either way, I need to find a scapegoat.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Abhinav

    Suicide is no laughing matter. Atleast that's what I thought till a few months back. Then I happened to watch this excellent movie called 'Hemlock Society', which was a dark comedy-drama about suicidal people. And now comes along Nick Hornby's only high-concept novel till date - 'A Long Way Down'. 'A Long Way Down' is about four people who meet on New Year's Eve on top of a London building, each planning to jump off & putting an end to their seemingly miserable lives. Martin is a disgraced fo Suicide is no laughing matter. Atleast that's what I thought till a few months back. Then I happened to watch this excellent movie called 'Hemlock Society', which was a dark comedy-drama about suicidal people. And now comes along Nick Hornby's only high-concept novel till date - 'A Long Way Down'. 'A Long Way Down' is about four people who meet on New Year's Eve on top of a London building, each planning to jump off & putting an end to their seemingly miserable lives. Martin is a disgraced former TV presenter, Maureen is a single mother raising a chronically-disabled son, Jess is a rebellious teenager & JJ is a has-been in the American rock scene. As the night progresses, the four of them somehow develop an unlikely alliance & understanding towards each other. Do they still jump off the building, or do they take the 'long way down'? What's so 'high-concept' about it, you might ask. Given the fact that this book falls under popular fiction, the style of narration is one I've hardly come across before in the genre. I won't exactly call it chapter-less, but the story is narrated by these four characters - each giving his side of the story in sync with the main plot. It also ensures that this happens to be Hornby's best work as far as characterisation is concerned. Nick Hornby's ability to make the reader laugh in the most unlikeliest of circumstances is perhaps one of the hallmarks of his writing, which is very much evident in this book too. What I also like about this book very much is how clearly Hornby expresses the conflicting emotions each of his characters go through in the different situations that arise throughout the course of this book. The only drawback of this novel is its rather sappy ending, which is too sweet for its own good. Nevertheless, it left me smiling as most of Nick Hornby's books do. 4 stars to this dark, funny novel. Given I'm a fan of Hornby's works, I'd rate this alongside his best works 'About A Boy' & 'High Fidelity'. Highly recommended for fans of popular fiction.

  15. 5 out of 5

    brook

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. this book was so infuriating. i found it in borders, on sale for $3. i thought it was a steal, and i really enjoyed high fidelity, so why not? now i just feel ripped off. the story is about 4 random people that meet on the roof a building. they all want to kill themselves, for completely pitiful reasons. they end up not killing themselves; in fact, they journey through the path to recovery by depending on one another. the thing is, they don't even get along, and none of the characters are very li this book was so infuriating. i found it in borders, on sale for $3. i thought it was a steal, and i really enjoyed high fidelity, so why not? now i just feel ripped off. the story is about 4 random people that meet on the roof a building. they all want to kill themselves, for completely pitiful reasons. they end up not killing themselves; in fact, they journey through the path to recovery by depending on one another. the thing is, they don't even get along, and none of the characters are very likeable or relatable even on their own. in sum, this is basically 300 pages of bickering. as messed up as it may sound, the best part is when they are on the roof again for a reunion and someone un-related actually does take the plunge (i'm not even worried about giving this away, because the book is so bad). they all realize how they never could have actually jumped, and things really aren't so bad. oh, but thats only about halfway through. the rest of the time is more bickering! yay! and the character jess is probably the worst fictional character i have ever encountered. all of her chapters made me want to gauge my eyes out. it took me forever to finish this short novel, but i just wouldn't give up hope. i kept waiting for it to get good. even when i got to the end i checked the last few blank pages to make sure i wasn't missing anything. turns out i wasn't missing anything, but the book certainly was. i wonder if its too late to return it and get my 3 bucks back?

  16. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This is a dark comedy for it is about suicide and reading this is both entertaining and thought-provoking. This is my 1st book by a contemporary British author, Nick Hornby (born 1957). His other works, High Fidelity (1995), About a Boy (1998) and How to be Good (2001) all ended up in New York Times Bestsellers and two have already been adapted to movies. I just picked up this bargain book as I was intrigued by its plot. I read later that Johnny Depp bought the story while it was still being writ This is a dark comedy for it is about suicide and reading this is both entertaining and thought-provoking. This is my 1st book by a contemporary British author, Nick Hornby (born 1957). His other works, High Fidelity (1995), About a Boy (1998) and How to be Good (2001) all ended up in New York Times Bestsellers and two have already been adapted to movies. I just picked up this bargain book as I was intrigued by its plot. I read later that Johnny Depp bought the story while it was still being written. The movie is now in the making. So, I squeezed this in while trying to finish Stephen King's The Shining which is taking me forever to read. Four people meet each other for the first time on top of The Topper's House, a 49-storey building in London, where most people go to commit suicide by jumping down to their death. It is New Year's Eve that incidentally has the record of the highest (followed by Valentine's Day) number of suicide attempts in this history of London. The four are: Martin - a middle-age TV show host who slept with a 15-y/o girl (who said she was 18). Martin was imprisoned for 3 months, divorced by his wife who no longer allows him to see their two little daughters. Then he got sacked from his TV show and is now working in a cable station for a program that none of his friends has seen. He was the first to go up the Topper's House. Maureen - a 51-y/o single mother to 19-y/o autistic Matty. She got impregnated only by having sex once with her husband who left her when he realized that their son was autistic. Since the time she got pregnant, she has not gone to vacation and she misses her work I love the different colors of pen, the paper with different sizes and normal life as she has to devote 100% of her time now to take care of Matty who does not know anything going on around him. Among the four, Maureen provided the insights on how a lonely life can make a person think of committing suicide. Jess - an 18-y/o daughter of a politician who is the Minister of Education. She went to Topper's House looking for her boyfriend Cas who seems to be avoiding her. Upon knowing that Cas was not there, she went up to the rooftop and found Martin and Maureen thinking of jumping down. Jess has a strained relationship with her parents as she was suspected of having stole the earrings of her elder sister Jen who ran away from their home. JJ - is an American rockstar wannabe who went to London with his girlfriend. His carreer did not take off, his band got disbanded so his girlfriend left him. He now works as a pizza boy and was delivering an order when he went up to the rooftop. There he found the 3 and they ended up eating the pizza while thinking of whether to jump or not. Did they jump to their death on that New Year's Eve? The answer is no. They talked that they realized that there are solutions to their problems. Hornby has this theory that a person contemplating suicide has to give himself or herself 3 months (one season) to see if suicide is the answer to his or her problems. Or course, I am not telling you whether they jumped on March 31 or 3 months after New Year's Eve. That would be too much of a spoiler. Saving now. Hope Goodreads will save this without any issue. I typed a similar review last Saturday but it hanged and got lost. I thought that my first review was better since the story was still fresh in my mind. Anyway, I am just typing this again for the sake of having a proper review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed

    I came to this book not knowing what to expect; I knew that people spoke highly of Nick Hornby, and that his books elicit thought and introspection, and I was coming from a background of mostly fantasy and sci-fi readings, so I was a bit cautious about approaching the book. Having said that, I am glad to have taken the plunge, because this is quite honestly one of the most amazing books I've had the pleasure to read. Nick Hornby really nails the mood and the characterization here, and I have noth I came to this book not knowing what to expect; I knew that people spoke highly of Nick Hornby, and that his books elicit thought and introspection, and I was coming from a background of mostly fantasy and sci-fi readings, so I was a bit cautious about approaching the book. Having said that, I am glad to have taken the plunge, because this is quite honestly one of the most amazing books I've had the pleasure to read. Nick Hornby really nails the mood and the characterization here, and I have nothing but praise for having managed to create four main characters, each of which having their own unique sets of problems and mannerisms, yet really not so different from humankind in general. You read their thoughts, and their conversations with others, and you just find yourself relating to something Martin thought, or JJ said, or Jess's cavalier swearing and youthful confusion. It is all very stellar, really. Of note is the ending, which I shall not spoil here, but it was something that I was worried about all through the book. I feared Hornby would screw it up, or make it unnecessarily depressing or unbelievably happy, but then as I read the ending, I found myself feeling satisfied by the conclusion. It made sense, for those people to come to these conclusions, and I didn't find myself struggling to swallow it, as is sometimes the case. I think that in the near future I might be thinking a bit more about the themes discussed in the book, but this is not the place for it. This is a review, and thus my review of it as that it was a marvelous book, well worth the time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    One wouldn't think that a book that begins when the four main characters meet on a roof, each contemplating suicide, could be touching AND funny, but this was. The relationships these characters develop with one another reveal the way that external situations can create unlikely friendships, and how difficult a word like "friend" can be to use or comprehend. To quote the Publishers Weekly review, "If Camus had written a grown-up version of The Breakfast Club, the result might have had more than One wouldn't think that a book that begins when the four main characters meet on a roof, each contemplating suicide, could be touching AND funny, but this was. The relationships these characters develop with one another reveal the way that external situations can create unlikely friendships, and how difficult a word like "friend" can be to use or comprehend. To quote the Publishers Weekly review, "If Camus had written a grown-up version of The Breakfast Club, the result might have had more than a little in common with Hornby's grimly comic, oddly moving fourth novel."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Boncea

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. http://www.iubesti.ro/turnul-sinuciga...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pip

    Interesting read and funny at times, just not a favourite!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stefania T.

    Romanzo senza infamia nè lode. O forse l'ascriverlo alla categoria delle letture "senzainfamianèlode" è già una consistente e minacciosa infamia. Diciamo, allora, romanzo da me marchiato con il lugubre timbro dell'Indifferenza. Sono metaforicamente e concretamente la stessa persona/lettrice che ero prima di cominciarne la lettura (bè, ok, lo ammetto, mi è spuntato un brufolo - forse due - nel frattempo, ma non credo di avere il diritto di accusare Nick Hornby di tale misfatto). Esperienza che non Romanzo senza infamia nè lode. O forse l'ascriverlo alla categoria delle letture "senzainfamianèlode" è già una consistente e minacciosa infamia. Diciamo, allora, romanzo da me marchiato con il lugubre timbro dell'Indifferenza. Sono metaforicamente e concretamente la stessa persona/lettrice che ero prima di cominciarne la lettura (bè, ok, lo ammetto, mi è spuntato un brufolo - forse due - nel frattempo, ma non credo di avere il diritto di accusare Nick Hornby di tale misfatto). Esperienza che non ha avuto alcun effetto sulla mia personcina. Due stellette, invece di una, poichè: 1- mi ha consentito, comunque, di portare a termine la lettura in un periodo di scombussolamenti vari, blocchi da lettore, incombenza esami universitari. 2- il buon vecchio Hornby "mi" nomina Nick Drake. E chiunque parli di Nick Drake dev'essere salvato dagli abissi infernali della votazione a "una stelletta".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Schnell

    A couple of laughes does not save this book. This is my only book by Hornby so I cannot compare it to his other work, but I wish I had not stepped off the ledge and bought the damn thing! I honestly didn't realize I could care less about 4 people contemplating suicide, but the fact is I just didn't care, and the reason is Hornby did not give me a reason to care. These four characters have very little to redeem them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fabia Consorti

    Non mi è chiaro se c’è un problema di traduzione o se si è cercato di riprodurre il particolare stile dell’autore, o non so che altro: Comunque sia, a volte non riuscivo davvero a capire il significato delle frasi. Peccato, perché nel complesso l’ho trovata una lettura piacevole e simpatica. Senza troppe pretese!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Annabel (Vanze)Lee

    Τα βιβλία του Νικ Χόρνμπυ βρίσκονται σίγουρα κάπου μέσα στη λίστα με τους χιλιάδες λόγους που αξίζει να ζεις

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    a note on misters folds and hornby and why they should be appreciated if not enjoyed. So I have been listening to the new CD by hornby and folds pretty straight for the last day short of the time I have been working or sleeping (I'll get to this specific book be patient). Seldomly do I have any idea that something is coming out in advance. I almost never know if a band I like has a new cd, sometimes until years later, and I learn about a new book by walking by it in the store or karen putting it a note on misters folds and hornby and why they should be appreciated if not enjoyed. So I have been listening to the new CD by hornby and folds pretty straight for the last day short of the time I have been working or sleeping (I'll get to this specific book be patient). Seldomly do I have any idea that something is coming out in advance. I almost never know if a band I like has a new cd, sometimes until years later, and I learn about a new book by walking by it in the store or karen putting it aside for me. This isn't to say I don't get excited I look forward to the next kundera, pernice, currie like no one's business I just don't know in advance the day they will arrive or if anything is even in the works. Hornby is different, I tend to keep an eye on him. I have been waiting for this CD since an education came out last october. I knew that it had been pushed back by the movie and I prayed that it hadn't simply been canceled. And here's the thing I love Mr. hornby and mr. folds... An interlude relating to this novel. (Spoilers possible, but none that ruin the book as far as I'm concerned) A long way down is probably my favorite novel by hornby, according to an interview I read it is also Mr. fold's favorite novel. The novel is about that period that everyone* has gone through where you really just need to throw yourself off the top of a building but you can't bring yourself to do it. But what happens if everyone else chooses the same night you do to throw themselves off a building shenanigans that's what. What this book lacks is a happy ending. Hornby has not figured it out. He doesn't have the secret of life. The best the book does is offer a weird fact that if suicidal people wait 90 days then the feeling passes and they don't kill themselves. Why mr. hornby is important You know how there are a bunch of hot young male chefs in england who got men to start learnign to cook and caring about what they eat. Hornby is along the same reasoning. His books venture into an avenue that a lot of male british life tends to avoid. Given my understanding of this comes heavily through novels and research on body image in men. But there is a feeling in the general pub culture that men don't really need to express emotions or have feelings about their own bodies etc because they can just bash each other in the head with their foreheads(if someone can explain to me why this happens it would be appreciated). We see this as well in America, I mean we(I) meet so many men who say "I don't want a relationship I just want to fuck a bunch of women" who clearly (sorry guys) don't actually feel that way. Eventually they realize this usually after several extremely unpleasant one night stands. I get where this comes from. I get that in america and england having feelings just isn't manly. (Once you get to intellectuals it is a bit more accepted though). Hornby allows an outlit for men to experience these feelings. I think it is a special kind of catharsis to be projected into a world where you can feel things that you aren't allowed to feel anywhere else. Yes, I admit in america the readership of hornby skews female and i think that is because it reads as a less direct annoying form of chick lit. The books are about feelings and relationships. But they are generally about ones that aren't working or pleasant. I mean if we think of an education well that just turned out to be a god damn disaster. This for me comes down to a level of honesty that I think you really don't get other places: "It's no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party." "A man who wants to die feels angry and full of life and desperate and bored and exhausted, all at the same time; he wants to fight everyone, and he wants to curl up in a ball and hide in a cupboard somewhere. He wants to say sorry to everyone, and he wants everyone to know just how badly they've all let him down." "...I've committed to nothing...and that's just suicide...by tiny, tiny increments." "Telling me I can do anything I want is like pulling the plug out of the bath and then telling the water it can go anywhere it wants. Try it, and see what happens." I think it's fine to disagree with the things hornby says or the candy coated ways that he says them, but I think to dismiss him is a mistake. Hornby is talking to a population. Probably younger people, it is in fact a fairly "quarter life crisis message" but a good one and an important one. I think this should be appreciated, and if nothing else we can celebrate the fact that fame hasn't caused him to start pooping out books like palahniuk he still writes at about the same quality level he always has. (A side note he also admits to having terrible taste in literature, but this is another conversation which would require me to have his books of essays in front of me) Back to my original point Now here I could go through and talk about all the amazing ben folds songs and say all the same things I said about hornby about him, but instead how about I say a few things and you assume my argument for him is basically the same. Everybody knows It hurts to grow up And everybody does I'm not saying the effort is a waste of time - but I Just love you for the things you couldn't change Though you've tried A note on lonely avenue The new cd by hornby and folds brings them together and since the point of view and audience both tend to be at least from my perception twenty somethings you end up with something that at least to me seems quite lovely(lyrics all by hornby as far as I can tell): Some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know He's got his own blog I'm a loser I'm a poser Yeah really It's over I mean it and I quit Everything I write is shit So we talk and it turns out we don't believe in abortion And sex outside marriage is against our religion And when I try to tell them I'm 18 years old, They say "Levi it's too late, you've got to do as you're told" It's so easy from above You can really see it all People who belong together Lost and sad and small But there's nothing to be done for them It doesn't work that way Sure we all have soulmates but we walk past them every day, oh no and what is it that I think is great about this, because clearly with all this crap I have typed it must be something. I think it really captures a level of confusion that typifies my generation at this particular moment. And perhaps more widely all people at all times. I mean I have never been as old as hornby so maybe it never goes away. And there is the moment that I think I personally truly appreciate in the cd and in this book. the confusion, the depression, the fear never go away. You either learn to live with them (this book) or you change the situation (slam, many times) and learn to live with a different kind of confusion and emotional well issues. The fact is, yeah folds and hornby tend toward a happy tone but it isn't all coming up roses, and it isn't so weird it is unbelievable. It has a strong relationship to reality, which is perhaps why some people find it so boring. *this is just an outright lie.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)

    Did I enjoy this book: There’s got to be at least one character in a book that I care about. I was slogging through a modern classic–I won’t name it here–with the least likable set of characters I’d ever encountered. I pushed through to the halfway mark, and then I said, “Why am I doing this? I’m going to find a novel whose people touch my heart.” I was lucky enough to pick up Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. I really enjoyed the book. The cover of my copy of A Long Way Down shows four pairs of shoe Did I enjoy this book: There’s got to be at least one character in a book that I care about. I was slogging through a modern classic–I won’t name it here–with the least likable set of characters I’d ever encountered. I pushed through to the halfway mark, and then I said, “Why am I doing this? I’m going to find a novel whose people touch my heart.” I was lucky enough to pick up Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. I really enjoyed the book. The cover of my copy of A Long Way Down shows four pairs of shoes hovering over a blue sky. The wing tips are fallen talk show host Martin’s. The comfortable oxfords are 51-year-old Maureen’s. Teenaged smart-mouth Jess owns the black Keds (and the red socks), and the boots belong to rock star wannabe JJ. These four unlikely compatriots meet atop Topper’s Tower in London one New Year’s Eve. Each climbs to the roof alone, intending to jump and end a life that no longer has meaning. They come down in a pack, on a mission to find Jess’s erstwhile boyfriend. Then, mission accomplished, they find they can neither break their connection nor complete their original mission. The book is told in all four voices, so we get inside each of their heads–miserable screw-up Martin, who had it all and lost it via his own stupidity; self-effacing Maureen, whose life has been spent caring for a son so disabled he has no awareness; the jilted Jess, whose sister is missing–a probable suicide; and musician JJ, who lost his band, his love, and his will to live. This band of misfits screws up regularly and sometimes spectacularly. They’re drifty and lunatic, self-centered and clueless, and yet–I care about each one. Would I recommend it: I recommend A Long Way Down if you want a funny book with likable characters that admits to hope. Don’t look for saccharine, though–true love doesn’t come waltzing through the door, nor do the foolish become wise with the flash of a Hogwarts’ wand. But people on the wrong course do manage, with determination and an odd kind of courage, to turn their baggage-heavy ships. They get by,–yes, they do,–with a little help from their odd cast of friends. As reviewed by Pam at Every Free Chance Books. http://everyfreechance.com/2015/03/gu...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Four strangers meet at arguably the lowest point in their lives and form an unlikely bond. Unlikely because these four people are so very different from each other that under normal circumstances they would never ever cross paths. I laughed right out loud at several times while reading - not what I expected at all. I enjoyed how each character took turns telling the story - of their lives, their loves, their sorrows. As the book progressed it was like peeling the layers of an onion, the reader gai Four strangers meet at arguably the lowest point in their lives and form an unlikely bond. Unlikely because these four people are so very different from each other that under normal circumstances they would never ever cross paths. I laughed right out loud at several times while reading - not what I expected at all. I enjoyed how each character took turns telling the story - of their lives, their loves, their sorrows. As the book progressed it was like peeling the layers of an onion, the reader gains deeper and deeper insight into each character as we go along. Each character has both a distinct voice and personality as well, and it was written in such a way that they were actually speaking to the reader - loved that. Jesse to the reader after explaining why she was on the roof - if you're old and happy, I can imagine that you'll maybe smile to yourself when you here me going, He broke my heart. You'll remember someone who broke your heart, and you'll think to yourself, Oh, yes, I can remember how that feels. But you can't you smug old git. - then follows the rather lengthy explanation of what Jesse thinks you remember contrasted with what she is experiencing. Maureen to the reader on her reasons for and against - because that's why I was up there-there wasn't quite enough to stop me. Jesse explaining why the bookclub didn't work out - you should try and read the 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......because in the olden days anyone could get a book published because there wasn't so much competition.........whereas now they'd go, No, dear, go away, no one will understand you. Try Pilates or salsa dancing instead. Martin to Jesse in response to her comment that she had not attempted suicide again as she had been busy - "Terrible, isn't it, how that happens? You'll have to block out some time in your diary. Otherwise life will keep getting in the way." Lighthearted, yet thoughtful. This is a keeper for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Ho iniziato convinta di leggere un libro sul suicidio. Un suicidio di gruppo, ma pur sempre un suicidio. Sfogliando le pagine ho conosciuto quattro volti e quattro vite. Tutte diversissime tra loro, quasi agli antipodi. Continuando a leggere ho scoperto che in realtà stavo ascoltando una storia sola e non quattro, ma osservata da quattro punti di vista diversi. Ognuno raccontato secondo uno sguardo diverso, ognuno con il proprio linguaggio. Ho scoperto che alla fine non era una storia sul suicid Ho iniziato convinta di leggere un libro sul suicidio. Un suicidio di gruppo, ma pur sempre un suicidio. Sfogliando le pagine ho conosciuto quattro volti e quattro vite. Tutte diversissime tra loro, quasi agli antipodi. Continuando a leggere ho scoperto che in realtà stavo ascoltando una storia sola e non quattro, ma osservata da quattro punti di vista diversi. Ognuno raccontato secondo uno sguardo diverso, ognuno con il proprio linguaggio. Ho scoperto che alla fine non era una storia sul suicidio o su come lasciarsi andare, ma piuttosto su come "tirare avanti", trovare dentro di sé la forza per continuare a vivere senza lasciarsi andare troppo alla tentazione di fuggire da se stessi.Un bel libro, che si fa leggere tutto d'un fiato.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    There's a terrifying passage in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest that has stuck with me, about suicidal depression and the importance of someone staying up with you and being there through the long night until the dawn. This book, about four people who meet attempting to jump to their deaths from the top of a London tower, is ... not that. In general, Hornby doesn't really attempt to capture the internal feeling of severe depression, focusing more on the interactions between the four. It end There's a terrifying passage in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest that has stuck with me, about suicidal depression and the importance of someone staying up with you and being there through the long night until the dawn. This book, about four people who meet attempting to jump to their deaths from the top of a London tower, is ... not that. In general, Hornby doesn't really attempt to capture the internal feeling of severe depression, focusing more on the interactions between the four. It ends up playing quite a bit like a deliberately quirky set-up for an indie film (which... well). The character dynamics and dialogue are mostly well done, but it's hard not to feel like something important is missing here.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ange H

    Four people decide to commit suicide by jumping off a roof at midnight on New Year's Eve. They don't know each other, it's just that they've all chosen the same roof and the same time to jump. (This patent lack of originality only makes them feel worse about themselves.) Since the moment has clearly passed, after some awkward discussion they eventually agree to go back down and have a drink. With this absurd beginning, we meet Martin, Maureen, JJ, and Jess. They each confess the reasons that bro Four people decide to commit suicide by jumping off a roof at midnight on New Year's Eve. They don't know each other, it's just that they've all chosen the same roof and the same time to jump. (This patent lack of originality only makes them feel worse about themselves.) Since the moment has clearly passed, after some awkward discussion they eventually agree to go back down and have a drink. With this absurd beginning, we meet Martin, Maureen, JJ, and Jess. They each confess the reasons that brought them to this point. Martin was a TV talk show host who lost everything - and went to jail - after sleeping with an (unbeknownst to him) underage girl. Maureen, a single mother with a severely disabled grown son, is overwhelmed by loneliness and the endless stress of caregiving. JJ is broke, has lost his girlfriend, his best friend, and his dream of making it as a musician. Jess is privileged but desperately unhappy and generally screwed up. These four people couldn't have less in common, except the one big thing that brought them together. They decide to form a support group of sorts, agreeing to meet regularly and then after 90 days, reevaluate the whole jump off the roof idea. I laughed out loud a LOT while reading this book. The pacing was uneven and the end just a tiny bit anticlimactic, but I recommend it highly if you enjoy dark humor.

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