I’ve had this book in my possession for a while. I couldn’t quite get myself to read Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby for one reason: I hated reading Slam.

I saw Hornby’s work turned into movies (High Fidelity and About a Boy) that I’d enjoyed, but I never read those books. I came across Slam at some point and gave it a try. I never understood what the point of the story was.

So I was gun-shy about Hornby work after that.

I’d given Juliet, Naked as a gift and then it came back into my possession eventually, but it sat on the shelf unread for quite a while. Because of the move, lack of TV, and the need to save money, I’ve been working my way through my book backlog. Because of a trip, I needed (well, needed might be overstating things) to have a hard copy to carry around to avoid draining my phone battery.

Luckily, this book was much better. I don’t know that it’s one I’ll ever come back to, but I don’t regret reading it.

Juliet, Naked follows three middle-aged people who wasted that past 15-20 years. That’s the best place to start.

One of the POV characters is Annie. She’s a lonely wife who isn’t technically a wife. Her not technically husband is Duncan, our second POV character, a college faculty member who is obsessed with the third POV character Tucker, who is a retired musician who made one good album.

An album of unreleased work comes out, which sends upends their mundane lives in slightly less mundane ways.

When I think about the movies based on Hornby works that I’ve seen, this book fits that general mold: You’ve got adults who’ve just been wasting their time and now they’ve realized it.

That’s where this book sits. You’ve got people looking back on their lives and seeing how it’s just been mostly wasted time (and the one who’s wasted the most time doesn’t even realize it).

There’s humor underlying it all, but there’s an underlying sadness to the story. They’re living the inertia of sitting still. The ending is fairly unsettled. You see growth but very modest growth. Like when people saying eating X food will make you live longer. They usually mean it’ll buy like an extra week if you binge on X food for the next 40 years.

This isn’t a book I’d recommend going out of the way to read, but it’s also not a book to be actively avoided. It’s just a middle life malaise. Maybe that’s what you’re into.

-Q

 

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