A couple days ago I started reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and I got through about 300 pages in like 48 hours, even with the craziness of my Busy Backson lifestyle. Hornby is one of those writers who’s just so friggin’ readable. The amazing thing is that his first-person narrator spends most of the 300+ pages whining, and yet for some reason I can’t stop, I just want more and more of that whiny narration. How does Hornby manage to pull that off, damn it? I think it works because even when Rob (our slacker hero) is rambling on and on, there’s still always something that’s left unsaid. The opening is a fab example, with Rob listing his top 5 worst break-ups and telling his recently-exed girlfriend that she didn’t even come close to making the list – but the more he whines about the trauma of his middle school break-ups, the more we wise readers can be sure that this latest break up has torn him up far worse than any of the others.
All of this has been very helpful, since recently I’ve been trying to finish my own whiny narrator story. I may have a new record on this one – three years of working on it on and off, well over a dozen drafts (including one at Clarion) – but I think I’m close to getting it right, thanks in part to the lessons I’ve gotten from Mr. Hornby.