A long way down

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

I’ve always enjoyed reading Nick Hornby books. By and large they are easy to read and I guess are considered ‘light reading’ by many. Regardless, his characterisation is usually spot on and in this book — the story of four strangers who meet by chance on the roof of a building as they all plan to commit suicide on the same night — is nicely constructed to allow him to play with four entirely different characters at the same time.

As the story progresses (obviously they decide not to jump that night, or it’d be a helluva short book) the narrative switches between each character, slowly adding more layers to both story and personas. What’s really impressive is how well he manages to portray the key players, from the disgraced TV presenter to the god-fearing single mother, the failed american rock star to the spoiled brat teenager, he captures their thoughts and moods wonderfully.

And it’s funny, but then you except that from Hornby, his dry wit used to as a natural buffer to punctuate the storyline.

It’s not a difficult book to read, which is largely due to the laidback style that Hornby uses throughout most of his novels, but it’s a good one. Part satire, part social commentary, it never preaches nor condescends, and even offers a little affirmation on the joys of being alive.

If nothing else it’s worth reading for the brilliant Jess, the belligerent teenager and easily the ‘star’ of the book.