High Fidelity (1995)
Written by: Nick Hornby
Having already written the definitive review of the film, it is only right that I write the review of the novel that movie is based on.
To get the proper sense of my connection to the book, I’ll admit that I read it for the first time a few weeks ago, and thus did so with the movie in mind. The movie is an excellent adaptation of the book, taking entire passages nearly word-for-word. Which isn’t to say that if you’ve seen the movie that there’s no point to reading the book. The book gets to go places and develop ideas and characters that the constraints of time and demands of the medium of film don’t allow. Also, while much of the dialogue in the film is taken from the book, it had to be Americanised and updated for the year 2000. The book is set in London, with all the crazy English associated with it. Which means that while the words I read were often familiar, the were enough changes in the diction that I wasn’t just hearing John Cusack and Jack Black in my head the whole time (although, I do think I still read Dick as Todd Louiso, even though he doesn’t match the physical description Nick Hornby gives in the book).
To put it plainly, as great as a movie High Fidelity is, the book High Fidelity is better. The book has brilliant things to say about relationships, the role of the modern male, and their tendency to obsess over hobbies. The book so perfectly nails his observations about men of my generation, that reading it, I was forced to ask myself on occasion how it came to be that Nick Hornby wound up being my personal biographer. The book is laugh-out-loud, read-it-to-the-person-next-to-you funny, with plenty of those instances being moments that aren’t in the movie. On the other hand, there are moments that will genuinely touch the reader, perhaps even make you a little teary-eyed, if you’re the sort to do that type of thing.
Basically, what I’m trying to say here is… if you haven’t read this book, then make it your mission in life to read it. I don’t need to say anything else, other than 5 out of 5 stars.