Book info

A Long Way Down (2006)

A Long Way Down (2006)
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Rating
3.4 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
1594481938 (ISBN13: 9781594481932)
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English
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publisher
riverhead books
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A Long Way Down (2006)
A Long Way Down (2006)

About book: This is a dark comedy for it is about suicide and reading this is both entertaining and thought-provoking.This is my 1st book by a contemporary British author, Nick Hornby (born 1957). His other works, High Fidelity (1995), About a Boy (1998) and How to be Good (2001) all ended up in New York Times Bestsellers and two have already been adapted to movies. I just picked up this bargain book as I was intrigued by its plot. I read later that Johnny Depp bought the story while it was still being written. The movie is now in the making. So, I squeezed this in while trying to finish Stephen King's The Shining which is taking me forever to read.Four people meet each other for the first time on top of The Topper's House, a 49-storey building in London, where most people go to commit suicide by jumping down to their death. It is New Year's Eve that incidentally has the record of the highest (followed by Valentine's Day) number of suicide attempts in this history of London. The four are:Martin - a middle-age TV show host who slept with a 15-y/o girl (who said she was 18). Martin was imprisoned for 3 months, divorced by his wife who no longer allows him to see their two little daughters. Then he got sacked from his TV show and is now working in a cable station for a program that none of his friends has seen. He was the first to go up the Topper's House.Maureen - a 51-y/o single mother to 19-y/o autistic Matty. She got impregnated only by having sex once with her husband who left her when he realized that their son was autistic. Since the time she got pregnant, she has not gone to vacation and she misses her work I love the different colors of pen, the paper with different sizes and normal life as she has to devote 100% of her time now to take care of Matty who does not know anything going on around him. Among the four, Maureen provided the insights on how a lonely life can make a person think of committing suicide.Jess - an 18-y/o daughter of a politician who is the Minister of Education. She went to Topper's House looking for her boyfriend Cas who seems to be avoiding her. Upon knowing that Cas was not there, she went up to the rooftop and found Martin and Maureen thinking of jumping down. Jess has a strained relationship with her parents as she was suspected of having stole the earrings of her elder sister Jen who ran away from their home.JJ - is an American rockstar wannabe who went to London with his girlfriend. His carreer did not take off, his band got disbanded so his girlfriend left him. He now works as a pizza boy and was delivering an order when he went up to the rooftop. There he found the 3 and they ended up eating the pizza while thinking of whether to jump or not.Did they jump to their death on that New Year's Eve? The answer is no. They talked that they realized that there are solutions to their problems. Hornby has this theory that a person contemplating suicide has to give himself or herself 3 months (one season) to see if suicide is the answer to his or her problems. Or course, I am not telling you whether they jumped on March 31 or 3 months after New Year's Eve. That would be too much of a spoiler.Saving now. Hope Goodreads will save this without any issue. I typed a similar review last Saturday but it hanged and got lost. I thought that my first review was better since the story was still fresh in my mind. Anyway, I am just typing this again for the sake of having a proper review.

Boy, is there anyone who has offered up more stinkers than Nick flippin' Hornby. And, was he so great to begin with? Even his better, earlier works were marginally good. Nothing life changing. Which is kinda the point of why he's so awful: he is intentionally trying to be life changing in every book, essay, magazine column or whatever. He thinks he can somehow find the right prose combination for some idea or mindset to click and for it to change one's life ... much like these things do to characters in his books. The epiphany is Hornby's White Whale. And he didn't catch him in "A Long Way Down." The problems with "A Long Way Down": 1. There isn't one likable character. It revolves around for seemingly different people all wanting to throw themselves from a building on New Years Eve. And you kinda wish they would've. They don't. 2. Unfocused. My first impressions of the book, before actually reading it, I thought it took place entirely on the roof of the building. Instead, it chronicles the knucklehead goings on of these nitwits as they slowly realize that there are a billion reasons why they should live, and only like one or two why they shouldn't. 3. Hornby is about as pretentious as they come. This isn't the first time he's taken on suicide, but to build a whole book around it and never really answer any questions, come to any conclusions. Sure, the characters don't kill themselves, but we really never find out why. One character feigns a deadly disease. Why not give him a real disease? Give him something to die for. It was pretty clear that none of the characters were never actually going to kill themselves. And the lack of that possibility dulls any teeth the book had, or could have had.
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Reviews
Inge
I had high hopes for this book, because my brother recommended this to me. My brother, the one who:- tried to make fun of me on a book fanpage for liking books- only reads books when they're written by either Barney Stinson or basketball playersSo when that guy says a certain book is good, you go for it.This is the story of four people who want to commit suicide on New Year's Eve. Of course, this is pretty much the most popular night to rob yourself of your own life, so it's not that surprising that they all end up together. Martin was first. He's lost his marriage, his kids, his job and his reputation because he slept with a 15-year-old who told him she was 18. He did his time in jail, but of course, that doesn't change everything. His life is ruined. Just when he is about to jump, Maureen climbs up to the rooftop. It's a lot harder to jump when you've got an audience.Maureen is a middle-aged woman with a son who is a vegetable. He has never been able to say a word, he's just there, breathing. Maureen's entire life revolves around taking care of her son, up to the point where she has no job, no friends, no hobbies, no life. So what difference would it make to her son if she was gone?Enter Jess. 18-year-old Jess who stalks a guy named Chas because he slept with her and then broke it off without an explanation. Jess is a teenage girl and has moodswings, so that's why she finds herself on that rooftop on New Year's Eve.The fourth guy is JJ. He used to be in a band. They failed. He's also lost his girlfriend, the one he moved to England for. Now he's a pizza deliverer. Not exactly a glamorous job. He's the final member of this Suicide Team. They end up talking a bit and decide to give it a few more weeks, where they try to help improve each other's lives. That's the beginning of an usual friendship between four very unusual people who would never have spoken to each other if it wasn't for New Year's Eve.It sounds good, but that's all. The premise was good, the actual story not so much. Even though it's only 257 pages, it was too long. There were a lot of redundant parts and it made the story quite boring. Maybe my brother lied to me just so he could get rid of the book.Bastard.
Joni
Highly enjoyed this book. The plot was strong, and the characters and their situations were vivid and believable. Lots have people have been saying that they were annoyed by the fact that the four main characters are so stereotypical, but i actually think that that was what made the book work. It was because they were so typically different that their interactions were so funny and interesting...if that makes sense?The only thing I would say, I was a bit put-off by the huge amount of swearing, but I appreciate that I am probably the youngest reviewer by at least ten years! Although the characters are vastly different, and come from separate walks of life, they all find themselves in the same immediate situation; they are all contemplating suicide, standing on the roof of Topper's House, a popular suicide spot in their home-town. The build of friendship and gradual trust between the four main characters is the theme of the book. The journey the unlikely 'gang' embark on is moving, if somewhat depressing.
Tracy
One wouldn't think that a book that begins when the four main characters meet on a roof, each contemplating suicide, could be touching AND funny, but this was. The relationships these characters develop with one another reveal the way that external situations can create unlikely friendships, and how difficult a word like "friend" can be to use or comprehend. To quote the Publishers Weekly review, "If Camus had written a grown-up version of The Breakfast Club, the result might have had more than a little in common with Hornby's grimly comic, oddly moving fourth novel."
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