Nick Hornby – The complete polysyllabic spree (08-044)
The author Nick Hornby is a reader himself. And so he turns into the reviewer Hornby for a monthly column in the American magazine Believer. A column is usually a bit more personal than a novel, though it is never as deep. If I look at Hornby’s books, his first novels (Fever Pitch and High Fidelity) are more personal than all of these columns. His latest books seem more made up.
Anyway, not relevant for this book. All the columns he wrote for Believer have been put together in this volume. I like columns, I love writing them myself, I am always searching the web for columns from authors I like and have managed to collect nearly 1800 of them already on my hard disk. The main disadvantage with columns though, is the fact that the author is inevitably repeating himself. Hornby even uses that trick once, when he starts a column exactly the same way as he had done a year before. Just checking if people read well. This could be fun if you read the magazine, but if you are reading the collected columns in a book, then a year ago is probably only a few days ago, at its most a fortnight.
Another thing is that Hornby agreed with the editors to stick to writing about books he liked. So if he had read a disappointing novel, he shan’t mention it in his column. However logical this may seem (why bother writing about bad or even unfinished books?), it takes away the edge of his writing.
On a more positive note, I quite liked the idea to put in some fragments from books he enjoyed. And books can be enjoyed several times. Or much later than planned. Sometimes one buys a novel and it remains on the shelf for years. Normally reviews only bother with fairly new books, but most people (at least Hornby and I) tend to read a lot of books that haven’t been published in the last six months. One of the fragments in this book is from David Copperfield, reminding the world again how great Dickens is and that he should be read much more often. At least by me I have to admit.
So even though this will never be my favourite Hornby book, even though I was annoyed with some jokes returning several times, it certainly is a book that got me thinking, a book that pointed me to new authors or new books by authors I knew, a book that was worth spending time on.
Quote: “I have been meaning to read a book about cricket for a while, with the sole intention of annoying you all. I even toyed with the idea of reading only cricket books this entire month, but then I realized that this would make it too easy for you to skip the whole column; this way, you have to wade through the cricket to get to the Checkov and the Roddy Doyle.” (page 127).
Title: The complete polysyllabic spree
Author: Nick Hornby
Language: English (UK)
# Pages: 278 (8602)
Category: Non fiction