Film sites are littered with people slating films because they're not as good as the book, and rightly so in most instances, so it feels weird that I'...moreFilm sites are littered with people slating films because they're not as good as the book, and rightly so in most instances, so it feels weird that I'm on a book site writing a review that says it's not as good as the film.
The key difference between Nick Hornby's vision of Rob and John Cusack's one is one of relatability. The Rob of the film is obviously sweet, charming, and insecure in a way that engenders sympathy, while the Rob of the book seems a little more distant, a little less fun to be around. The issue of music, obviously a huge one with this book, makes a difference too - the film gives the impression of Rob being a man that loves his own music more than he hates other people's, and the book just doesn't, with his opinions outside of his own generation, hip-hop particularly, making him seem like a bit of a tool (interesting how the film saught to attack this head-on by having Rob namedrop Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor in his first top five, isn't it?).
This aside, this is an essential book for anybody that's ever obsessed at music at any point in their lives. Parts of it are almost painfully vivid; it's very hard not to recognize a little of yourself in all of the three main male characters and wince a little (anybody that looks down their nose at Barry or Dick is lying to themselves), nor to wistfully empathize with the way all these men live vicariously through their record collections and the singers, musicians, producers, and labels that produced them. On the one hand it's a novel that glorifies geekiness, on the other it's one that explores the pitfalls and the downsides of retaining your geekiness into your thirties better than just about anything ever has - sometimes the most telling way to skewer something is from the inside out, and High Fidelity is a great example of that. Funny (funnier than the film in fact), charming, touching, elegantly paced, and impressively mature throughout; this is the kind of book you feel silly recommending to people because you assume that anybody that might possibly like it will have at least heard of it already, but recommend it I must.(less)
Outrageously bad in places, the writing here plummets to depths that are astonishingly low for a writer of Arthur C. Clarke's reputation and standing....moreOutrageously bad in places, the writing here plummets to depths that are astonishingly low for a writer of Arthur C. Clarke's reputation and standing.
It genuinely astonishes me that this was written in tandem with the film, just as it astonishes me that the original idea was Clarke's - this mostly reads like a piece of masturbatory online fan-fiction (of which there's plenty about when it comes to Kubrick). That, I have to stress, is not entirely Clarke's fault; the things that make the film work as well as it does are the scope of the visuals, the majesty of the score, the judicious use of silence, and the atmosphere, and those ar all things that are very difficult or impossible to replicate using only text. I suspect that any creative differences during the process were simply resolved by Kubrick getting his own way. It would explain how forced parts of this novel feel, at least.
I've certainly read worse in the genre, but never anything as bad as this attached to a name as widely loved (and that goes for the name of the 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as Clarke's own name). And they say the book is always better than the film!(less)