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A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
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Apr 26, 07

it was ok

In "A Long Way Down," four very different people are brought together by their shared desire to commit suicide. Hornby tells the story in first-person narrative, switching between each of the four characters. He tries to make their voices distinct from each other, but he does this very superficially. For example, the teenager uses a lot of slang and curse words, and the matron winces mentally whenever the teenager curses. Otherwise, their voices are identical: very breezy, chatty, light - typically Hornby. In fact, they seemed particularly suited for voice-over narration, and as two of Hornby's novels have already been transferred to the big screen, it's not inconceivable that he had the movie-version in mind while writing this novel.

However, these breezy, chatty voices seem ill-suited for such a serious subject. I understand that from the outside it may be difficult to tell whether a particular person is in the throes of depression. Such a person might find it easier to keep up an outward persona that masks his/her feelings from friends and acquaintances. But since Horby ambitiously uses first-person, I do expect to be able to empathize with the characters, and to understand why they are so unhappy. The chatty voices skim over the topic of depression, and never really delve into the essence of the emotion.

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