Tag Archives: Nick Hornby

4: High Fidelity

High FidelityHigh Fidelity by Nick Hornby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I bought this at The Book Warehouse, when I thought it was going out of business. (But then it got saved!) Book Warehouse is mainly an overstock/remainder store. This was in the remainder bins at the front, and it had kind of a cool re-issue cover. I’d never read it, and I thought, hey, I really should read that, having seen the movie umpteen times.


I took it with me to Calgary and read it on the plane / while waiting at the airport.

And… well, it was pretty good. I gave it a solid 3 stars at Goodreads. But it felt a little, I don’t know, been there, done that? Top 5 lists! Obsessions with pop culture minutiae. Mixtapes! That’s the internet! (Well, playlists now. Not quite the investment of love a mixtape was, but still.)

I know, I know, the book came first. It was published in 1995. But I didn’t read it first. So even though I knew the book was the trendsetter, not the imitator, it was hard to shake that tired feeling. And yes, I know I’m being unreasonable.

Also, I couldn’t not picture Rob as John Cusack, and Barry as Jack Black. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And then there’s The Weird Thing. In the book, Rob is Rob Fleming. In the movie, Rob is Rob Gordon. Why? Why would the movie producers change his name from one ubiquitous Irish/Scottish name to another? Specifically, why would they change it from Fleming to Gordon? Bizarre. If anyone knows the answer to this, I really want to know. I found this NYT review from 2000 and all it says is:

IN the transition from novel to film, Rob, the hero of ”High Fidelity” — Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel, Stephen Frears’s new film — undergoes some minor transformations: he ceases being British and becomes American, relocates from London to Chicago and sees his last name change from Fleming to Gordon. The first two changes were no doubt to accommodate the casting of the Chicago native John Cusack; the last you can speculate about on your own.

Yes, please. Speculate away.

In any case, in a movie vs. book death match, book wins because obviously!

So anyway, the book starts with Rob depressed because his girlfriend Laura has dumped him (she’s been hooking up with their former upstairs neighbor Ian aka Ray) and that I could roll with, but…

[spoiler after the jump] Continue reading



In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby’s pop music-obsessed narrator Rob Fleming asks, following his most recent in a spate of romantic failures, while slumped in his apartment feeling desperately sorry for himself: “What came first – the music or the misery? Did I listen to music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to music? Do all those records turn you into a melancholy person?”

Ujala Sehgal