A Long Way Down

This is the first book I read by Nick Hornby, and it was a complete pleasure. If you’re sick of life and on the roof of a tall building, there are two ways down. The short way down is over the edge. The long way down is by the stairs or elevator and back into the living world.

Martin, former morning talk-show host is there through a series of bad decisions including sleeping with a minor and has lost his family and job.  When he goes to the roof of Topper’s House on New Year’s Eve to kill himself, he finds that this particular building is a popular spot for jumpers and New Year’s Eve is a popular time for suicide. Pretty soon, he is joined by three other would-be suicides.

Maureen is a middle-aged Catholic woman saddled with a son who is in a persistent vegetative state. Although she is devout and proper and considers suicide a sin, she is worn out by the burden of her son and the guilt over considering him a burden.  Jess is a depressive in her late-teens, obsessed over an ex-boyfriend, and her thoughts of suicide come to her almost on a whim. Finally, JJ is a former rock musician of minor note who’s now a pizza delivery guy. His band has [ha] disbanded, and he has simultaneously been dumped by his girlfriend.

Winding up on the roof at the same time, the distraction ruins the moment completely. In spite of coming from  completely different backgrounds and situations, a tenuous bond is formed between them. They may not like each other, but they are now linked, and the bulk of the book deals with their misadventures as they try to decide whether their lives can be rebuilt or if suicide is still inevitable.

The story is less about happy or sad endings or any sort of ending. In real life we do not talk about happiness without tears, joy without grief. And so is this book, about four people trying to bring themselves back from the brink. It is not what you’d expect, but it’s completely real.

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3 Responses to “A Long Way Down”

  1. Nice review, I haven’t read Nick Hornby. I have to read high fidelity and also see the movie. Stephen Frears who directed “The Queen” also directed High Fidelity and my interest in the book and the movie are piqued after an interview I heard with him on NPR.
    Sorry about going offtopic. I have read about this book being recommended on some book lists, I can see why. 🙂

  2. Lovely review…

  3. @Sanjay: thanks. i’ll keep an eye out for High Fidelity – at least the movie – from the crushing weight of the TBR list. 🙂

    @Sitara: Thanks, babes. I live for your compliments. 😀

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