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Not a Star and Otherwise Pandemonium: Stories

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  579 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In these two stories from bestselling author Nick Hornby, revelations are at hand. In "Not a Star", Lynn has always thought her son, Mark, was a little, well, unremarkable. Until the day a neighbor drops off a porn video at her house, with a note telling her to watch it. Turns out, Mark is rather remarkable in one specific area of his life (and anatomy). Lynn and her husba ...more
Kindle Edition, 50 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Riverhead (first published October 6th 2005)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  579 ratings  ·  53 reviews


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John
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, light read by way of a change; and I haven’t read Nick Hornby for a while.

The first story concerns a boy’s “first time” and his life as a frustrated/frustrating 15 year old. He makes an unexpected discovery which involves his newly acquired video recorder which will eventually lead to the “first time”. But it’s not remotely what you’d expect. 3*s

The second concerns Mark’s enormous pecker. The DVD/video player theme is common to both. To say more might well spoil the fun. Not a Star is v
...more
Sam Bell
Otherwise Pandemonium: 3 stars
Not a Star: 4 stars
Christopher Febles
Ok I sort of cheated. Really short book that I killed in a day. But it’s an author I like. Cool stories. Needed this one to complete my goodreads goal and I’m still about 300 pages away from finishing the Follett book
Spencer Fancutt
Nice little short stories, the second of which is by far the better of the two- an amusing take on a family finding out about the son's job as a porn star. A quick read for an idle half hour.
Laila
I'm a fan of Nick Hornby's. I think he's a genius when it comes to dialogue and he is a keen observer of the smaller, more intimate part of the human condition. He doesn't do literary grandstanding, he makes you laugh and cry and full of feelings and I think his quality is generally underrated.

But these two stories were a big strange.

The first one is about a woman who finds out that her middle-of-the-road son stars in porn movies because he has a ginormous cock, and the whole thing leads her to
...more
Tima
I'm bias and will 100% admit that. I have a huge literary hard-on for Nick Hornby.

That being said, I usually don't read many short story collections. This short book has 2 stories. The first one is his typical somewhat awkward/humorous and the second is totally different than anything I've read by him.

I thought I'd loathe it, the first few pages of the story were very..annoying? Scattered? Not due to bad writing but due to the narrator - which he constructed perfectly. But, in the end, the story
...more
Vartika Rastogi
This volume contains two Nick Hornby stories connected by the VCR that’s common to both of them: through these two short sketch-tales, Hornby perhaps seeks to illustrate the common modern experience of the screen. The stories are also fundamentally about sex, which is as pervasive a power in our times as the telecast.

In the first story, Otherwise Pandemonium, Hornby creates what seems to be a parody of Genre Fiction but is probably not. This story first appeared in the McSweeney’s Mammoth Tre
...more
Brianna
Dec 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't even finish this SHORT STORY book because it was just that bad. Going through the last SIX pages was just too much for me. It's so boring, so horribly written, and just not interesting in the least bit.

The first story seemed promising at first by the very first page, but then it just got confusing. Which, whatever, maybe Nick really thinks this is how young teens think? Just a jumble of thoughts and going out of order with things? It just didn't seem to fit with the story that was be
...more
Evan Micheals
Two short stories in my further quest to complete all that Hornby has written and the first book of his I have read in 2018.

Not a Star follows a family discussion when a family member is found to have been in a pornographic film and the implications of explaining certain personal anatomical features of the star and how they might have been inherited. Well and sensitively written with dignity and humour portraying a normal family discussing something embarrassing and potentially difficult. This i
...more
Nadine Larter
I have such a love for Nick Hornby. His ability to just put you in the head of completely different people never ceases to amaze me. This is a short story book with only two stories in it. One is from the first person perspective of a teenage boy, and the second is from the perspective of a middle-aged woman. Both stories are great, of course, but the graceful ease in which he moves from one to another just blows my mind. I didn't even have to adjust between the two completely different voices. ...more
flajol
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Both stories entertained.

Otherwise Pandemonium ended up somewhere I did not expect, but was very much glass-half-full in its attitude towards the situation. I thought the style was a good nod towards The Catcher in the Rye, but Our Hero is nowhere near are annoying as Holden.

Not a Star was lovely and funny and real. If I ever had a son with a giant schlong who decided to use it as Mark uses his, I hope I would react just as his Mum does.
...more
Laura Flint
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two great short stories by a fantastic author. An awesome sunny winter afternoon's read!
Laurel
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of two short stories, the second story Not A Star was by far the better of the two.
Not A Star had a laugh out loud moment, that is always a winner for me.
Scott
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very quick read, but fun. He enjoys writing about writers writing "poorly"... it's quite funny.
Alana
May 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a few years ago when I first started purchasing the Pocket Penguins, but recently, I needed a bit of a jump-start while reading another book that seemed to be taking a while, and so I plucked this from the shelf for some quick subway reading.
Otherwise Pandemonium consists of two short stories written by Nick Hornby, both of which are quite amusing.

The first is, in fact, called "Otherwise Pandemonium," where a teenage boy acquires a VCR with strange properties. Rather than simply reco
...more
Ploni Almoni
Not sure that the short story is Hornby's best medium.
Matthew
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I knew from the plot summary that this book was going to contain two short stories, both containing sex. That made me nervous -- especially with the attention 50 Shades of Gray has been getting, I've been thinking about how confused most Americans are in the area of sexuality. In my opinion, sex is best experienced in the context of a loving, monogamous relationship. Besides, aren't most book jackets that mention sex just a red flag that the book is going to be gimmick-filled with attempted-shoc ...more
David Bril
This is another Short Story that Nick Hornby has written, that appears in a few collection novels and but also got published on its own as part of the Penguins pocket collection. Of all of Nick Hornby's short stories to date, this is likely my second least favorite but with that said though it is still an often funny, surprisingly sweet and sorta scary little tale.

It tells the story of how a young man lost his virginity, thanks to his knowledge of an impending apocalypse. Oh yeah Hornby is as w
...more
Natalye
May 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
"Not a Star and Otherwise Pandemonium" -Nick Hornby (2005)

I'm not certain why, but for some reason, I completely skipped over these stories, in spite of having read nearly everything else by Hornby. So I was excited to start in on them.

Within the first few pages, however, I realized that I much prefer Hornby's longer work. While it's unfair to hold everything he does to the standard of "High Fidelity," I really thought these stories were kind of boring and a bit inane.

The first, "Not a Star,"
...more
Coenraad
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this set of two short stories by Nick Hornby before, but I only remember 'Not a star', the second story. The first-person narrator is a mother who discovers her son has acted (very badly) in a porn film because he has ... um ... an unusually large endowment. This discovery set off a series of conversations and memories, elevating the potential bawdiness into a fascinating ode to family relationships. To manage this shift takes a gifted and insightful writer.

In the other story, 'Otherwi
...more
Muphyn
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I knew there was a reason why I didn't want to read any of Nick Hornby's stuff and these two short stories are precisely what I thought Nick Hornby was all about. His mind must work very different from mine, and we must live in very different worlds because mine certainly does not revolve around sex, sex, sex...

The first short story had the potential to be quite intriguing but I just don't care to read a story that starts with sex. And I care even less to read bad language in my spare time - the
...more
Aina
I really like 'Not A Star'. The beginning is bold and hilarious, but as the story went on it becomes more than just about a guy being a porn star. It's essentially a story about family. The writing feels honest without being too sentimental, and the jokes land without trying too hard. I finished the story with a smile on my face.

Only to be let down by 'Otherwise Pandemonium'. The plot reminds me of Christopher Pike's 'The Eternal Enemy' except the execution is rushed and all over the place. Ther
...more
Noam
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I know this book is rather rare, but if you manage to get your hands on a copy - read it!

Nick Hornby is a master of contemporary literature. His writing stile is so clean, direct, uncomplicated it works in these two short stories just as well as his novels. This is a very short book, only 55 pages long. I was gonna spent just one nice autumn afternoon on it, but the stories were so intense, thought and emotion provoking, so well written, I had to take time to recover between them.

Any fan of Ho
...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Two solid, funny, and very well written short stories focused on sex that felt like they could have been easily expanded into larger tales.

The first, Not a Star, dealt with a mother and father finding out that their college age son was in a porn movie.

The second, Otherwise Pandemonium, told from the perspective of a 15 year-old boy, was very Murakami-esque, and tells the story of how he lost his virginity.
Karschtl
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny, read-in-2010
Two short stories by Nick Hornby. Amazing how he can write from the perspective of different persons (15 year old boy, middle aged mother) and it all sounds very realistic.
The background story of the first story turns out to be rather 'weird' but interesting. The second one is also something to think about: how would you react if your son is making porn movies?
Todd Huish
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a good set of short stories in quite a while and the two in this collection just left me wanting more. These are two perfectly structured, perfectly paced short stories. A quick dip into the lives of the characters. The fact that both stories have a pretty fantastical bent makes them even better.
Sara J. (kefuwa)
This is like a literary snack. I have a couple more of these Penguin snippet type books. I think I will use them to catch up on my book challenge. Lol.

Back to the story. Nice tongue in cheek Nick Hornby style stories. Makes me feel like reading another one of his books if my to-read pile wasn't already so populated.
Samantha O'Leary
My sweet husband, knowing my love for Nick Hornby's writing, buys me one of his books every time he stumbles upon a new one, and this little gem provided an afternoon of laughter and delight at the range of his work. Both stories are engaging and sweet, with Hornby's usual gift with voice and pacing.
Lexi
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not bad, but not particularly memorable. Nick Hornby's writing is great, as always, but the stories themselves came up a bit short. I liked Not A Star better than Otherwise Pandemonium, but neither really grabbed me.
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Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, Slam, How to Be Good, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and The Polysyllabic Spree, as well as the editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is a recipient of the American Acade ...more

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