Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'A Long Way Down'

Maybe you've noticed me banging on about Nick Hornby's 'A Long Way Down' in the past, seeing as it is my favourite book of all time. Johnny Depp states that the novel is "masterful" and contains "some of the finest writing, and some of the most outstanding characters [he's] ever had the pleasure of reading". So clearly, you have to read it.

Furthermore, Nick Hornby has to absolutely positively write another book soon that rivals this masterpiece as I am about to jump out of my skin. I spend many endless nights simply looking up quotes from his various works to entertain myself.

Have you ever seen 'The History Boys'? My friend Alissa told me about this film once and like everything she introduces me to, I fucking love it. There's a quote by one of the teachers in it about reading in general:

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours."

Amazing, right? Anyway, that's how I feel about 'A Long Way Down'. Well, there's lots more amazingness that I could never conceive of, obviously, but you know what I mean. Some of my favourite quotes to entice you to read it:

"How do people, like, not curse? How is it possible? There are these gaps in speech where you just have to put a "fuck." I'll tell you who the most admirable people in the world are: newscasters. If that was me, I'd be like, "And the motherfuckers flew the fucking plane right into the Twin Towers!" How could you not, if you're a human being? Maybe they're not so admirable. Maybe they're robot zombies." - Jess

"We all spend so much time not saying what we want, because we know we can't have it. And because it sounds ungracious, or ungrateful, or disloyal, or childish, or banal. Or because we're so desperate to pretend that things are OK, really, that confessing to ourselves they're not looks like a bad move. Go on, say what you want. ... Whatever it is, say it to yourself. The truth will set you free. Either that or it'll get you a punch in the nose. Surviving in whatever life you're living means lying, and lying corrodes the soul, so take a break from the lies for just one minute." - JJ
(I like this one because I would never, ever do it. But I like the thought of it.)

"Telling me I can do anything I want is like pulling the plug out of the bath and then telling the water it can go anywhere it wants. Try it, and see what happens." - Jess

"The trouble with my generation is that we all think we're fucking geniuses. Making something isn't good enough for us, and neither is selling something, or teaching something, or even just doing something; we have to be something." - JJ

"I don't know you. The only thing I know about you is, you're reading this. I don't know if your happy or not; I don't know whether you're young or not. I sort of hope you're young and sad. If you're old and happy, I can imagine that you'll smile to yourself when you hear me going, he broke my heart. You'll remember someone who broke your heart, and you'll think to yourself, Oh yes, I remember how that feels. But you can't, you smug old git. Oh you'll remember feeling sort of pleasantly sad. You might remember listening to music and eating chocolates in your room, or walking along the embankment on your own, wrapped up in a winter coat and feeling lonely and brave. But can you remember how with every mouthful of food it felt like you were biting into your own stomach? Can you remember the taste of red wine as it came back up and into the toilet bowl? Can you remember dreaming every night that you were still together, that he was talking to you gently and touching you, so that every morning when you woke up you had to go through it all over again?" - Jess

"That’s the thing with the young these days, isn’t it? They watch too many happy endings. Everything has to be wrapped up, with a smile and a tear and a wave. Everyone has learned, found love, seen the error of their ways, discovered the joys of monogamy, or fatherhood, or filial duty, or life itself. In my day, people got shot at the end of films, after learning only that life is hollow, dismal, brutish, and short." - Martin

"Asking the head I have now to explain its own thinking is as pointless as dialing your own telephone number on your own telephone: Either way, you get an engaged signal. Or your own answer message, if you have that kind of phone system." - Martin

"A middle-aged woman who looked like someone's cleaning lady, a shrieking adolescent lunatic and a talkshow host with an orange face... It didn't add up. Suicide wasn't invented for people like this. It was invented for people like Virginia Woolf and Nick Drake. And Me. Suicide was supposed to be cool." - JJ

"People go on about places like Starbucks being unpersonal and all that, but what if that's what you want? I'd be lost if people like that got their way and there was nothing unpersonal in the world. I like to know that there are big places without windows where no one gives a shit. You need confidence to go into small places with regular customers... I'm happiest in the Virgin Megastore and Borders and Starbucks and Pizza Express, where no one gives a shit and no one knows who you are. My mum and dad are always going on about how soulless those places are, and I'm like Der. That's the point." - Jess

"The fuck?” he said.
“The fuck?” said Jess. “The fuck what?”
“It's an American abbreviation,” said Martin. “The fuck?” means “What the fuck?” In America, they’re so busy that they don’t have time to say the “what”." - Jess

"When someone uses the phrase ‘the prick one’, and you know immediately that this is a synonym for the word ‘metaphorically’, you are entitled to wonder whether you know the speaker too well. You are even entitled to wonder whether you should know her at all." - Martin

"I don't think you can call it stalking when it's just phone calls and letters and emails and knocking on the door." - Jess

"Once you stop pretending that everything's shitty and you can't wait to get out of it...then it gets more painful, not less. Telling yourself life is shit is like an anesthetic, and when you stop taking the Advil, then you really can tell how much it hurts, and where, and it's not like that kind of pain does anyone a whole lot of good. " - Martin I think. Or JJ.

Sigh. Maybe out of context it doesn't do much for you, but you really must read it. So many unexplained joys reading about four people who want to commit suicide.

Anyway, tomorrow is Australia Day and I am spending the day at the beach with my family. I would have really liked a new Nick Hornby to read in the sun, but I guess I'll settle for 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest'.

Hope you all have a good one and try and have a BBQ for the floods xx


  1. Sold. I'm going to buy it this week. (Remind me?)

  2. Yay!!! Am positively thrilled to hear that. I will definitely remind you. I'm sure you'll love it x