Friday, October 9, 2009

Long Way Down and NeanderThin

I'm not reducing the backlog of book reviews very well so I'll knock out two today.

I read Nick Hornby's Long Way Down when, horrors, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to be reading. I've had the book for a long time as I had bought it for a friend because I lost a bet to her and the book was to be the compensation. I haven't seen her to get it to her, though.

Hornby's novel Long Way Down is about four depressed people in London who decide, separately, to kill themselves on New Year's Eve by jumping from the top of a tall building.

Martin is the first to arrive. He is a former talk show host who was recently released from prison. The reason he was in prison is because he slept with a 15 year old girl. Upon his release his marriage is naturally a shambles, despite his being middle age he is immature and self-absorbed, and so he decides to off himself.

As Martin is on the ledge rethinking things, Maureen shows up. Maureen is in her fifties and cares for her disabled son. We discover that this son is the result of the one time she had sex in her life. She's broke, has no life other than caring for her son (who is an adult from an age standpoint), and alone.

Jess is a crazed young girl whose parents are upright members of society (her father is a politician). Her older sister, whom Jess adored, vanished years before which traumatized Jess. She also recently broke up with her boyfriend (whom we find out she treated in a bit of a stalker fashion). Jess mostly suffers from teen angst but is probably the most serious of the four about ending her life.

The final member of the group is JJ. He is an American musician whose group broke up. His girlfriend also left him. He delivers pizzas and it is while delivering pizzas to the building from which they are all planning to jump that he decides he wants to commit suicide.

The four meet up on the roof and begin talking and decide to not kill themselves. Jess gets them off the roof by coming up with the idea of tracking down her ex. By the time they accomplish that, it is morning and they resolve to give themselves six weeks to get their lives together and support one another at which time they will meet on the roof again and maybe kill themselves then.

Sounds pretty dark, right? It is but it is also very funny. Martin's celebrity status provides all sorts of twists and turns and the media coverage (which is a mix of accuracies and non-accuracies) makes them all minor celebrities for a time. Jess is the most active of the group and comes up with a variety of ideas to lift them from their depths, none of which go off as she plans.

Someone does end up jumping off the building but for the most part, the book ends on a positive note. Hornby is a good writer and does a nice job with dialogue. Definitely a good book to read.

NeanderThin is not. I was looking for a book on the paleolithic diet and sadly, this was the closest our library system had. It's dated, written by a someone with no background in nutrition, and is just not done well in the lease.

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