Dec 05, 10
Read in July, 2010
I like Nick Hornby. He has an accessible and conversational tone to his novels and he is filled with a bitter wisdom all the while showing us the hope that lies just beyond. His books read easily and his quirky, introspective characters could be any one of your friends. So when picking up Slam I had some reasonable expectations.
First off, it’s not a bad book. However it does lack some of the charm of his other works. In some ways, Slam feels like a natural place for Nick Hornby to go; after years of writing about the twenty-something experience, about men discovering just how to grow up, it seems only prudent to explore where such men may have started. And so this novel follows Sam, a sixteen-year old skater whose hero is Tony Hawk and whose first encounter with love finds him becoming a teenage father.
There are some odd elements to the story. One is that Sam “talks” to a poster of Tony Hawk, and Tony talks back by quoting portions of his autobiography, a book Sam has read countless times. Another is that in two separate instances, Sam is jettisoned into the future. Twice. He gleams what his life is like from the other side and then he returns back to the present. The third thing is not so much odd as it is an eye-rolling narrative device: Slam ends in a silly Q&A with the reader in which Sam answers the story’s lingering threads. It’s more superfluous than fulfilling.
If you’ve never read any Nick Hornby, I wouldn’t recommend this title to start with. Check out High Fidelity or A Long Way Down instead.