Book info

How To Be Good (2003)

How to Be Good (2003)
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Rating
3.16 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
3426615355 (ISBN13: 9783426615355)
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English
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publisher
droemersche verlagsanstalt th. knaur nachf., gmbh & co.
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How To Be Good (2003)
How To Be Good (2003)

About book: This book made me sad. It was really, really depressing. In fact, so much that it actually put me in a bad mood while I was reading it.Don't get me wrong; there were flashes of humor, clever writing, and certainly it begs a lot of introspection. But it was a real downer. None of the hope of "About a Boy", and although I haven't read "High Fidelity", I've seen that movie, and I think that had hope too.So here's what I started writing after the first section for BBC last Saturday:"How to be Good" isn't exactly a cheery book yet, is it, and frankly those in attendance were wondering if the notes on the cover ("Hilarious", "Such a zip to read", and "Breezily hilarious") were about this book or another. However, it also offered up quite a bit of fodder for discussion. For starters, we were very interested that it's a male author and this is from the female point of view, especially because of our knowledge of "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy". It's also interesting given the question she asks her son "do you think of me as the mummy or the daddy", and her perspective on being the primary breadwinner.None of us got "GoodNews", or his place, nor his healing powers. We also discussed giving to charity, and her views about her position as a doctor.I found this commentary so insightful that I was hooked from the bottom of the first page:I can describe myself as the kind of person who doesn't forget names, for example, because I have remembered names thousands of times and forgotten them only once or twice. But for the majority of people, marriage-ending conversations happen only once, if at all. If you choose to conduct yours on a mobile phone, in a Leeds car park, then you cannot really claim that it is unrepresentative, in the same way that Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't really claim that shooting presidents wasn't like him at all. Sometimes we have to be judged by our one-offs. (emphasis mine)A sentence I wish I had written, and maybe one of the ones those cover blurbs was referring to, is "I can now see, for the first time, just how many worms a can holds, and why it's not a good idea to open one under any circumstances."And then there's Katie's honesty, "My conversation with Molly has made it impossible for me not to think, even though not-thinking is currently my favorite mode of being." I totally get this -- when I'm upset, "not-thinking" is what I'd rather do any minute of the day. How is Hornby able to write a female character who thinks so similarly to the way I do?And then there's this. Honestly? It's just one of many reasons why we didn't have kids.And the other thing I think is that I have failed my daughter. Eight years old, and she's sad ... I didn't want that. When she was born I was certain I could prevent it, and I have been unable to, and even though I see that the task I set myself was unrealistic and unachievable, it doesn't make any difference: I have still participated in the creation of yet another confused and fearful human being.Here's something I thought interesting, at the top of 221, when David and GoodNews are working on "reversal", and "GoodNews says excitedly, 'That's what we're doing! Building an ideal world in our own home!'An ideal world in my own home ... I'm not yet sure why the prospect appalls me quite so much..."I know why it bothers her so much! Because GoodNews is calling their home "ours"!Last, I found this ... well, thought-provoking: When I look at my sins (and if I think they're sins, then they are sins), I can see the appeal of born-again Christianity. I suspect that it's not the Christianity that is so alluring; it's the rebirth. Because who wouldn't wish to start all over again?In thinking through my final thoughts on this book, and my preference for hope in books, I would have been happy with the ending of this book if it had ended one sentence earlier. That is, I'd have removed the last sentence before publishing it.

La trama, a mio avviso, presenta qualche forzatura e i personaggi sono ​a volte ​definiti in modo eccessivamente stravagante, tuttavia i temi di fondo del romanzo vengono ​sviluppati con sensibilità, equilibrio e competenza. ​Anche in un contesto decisamente meno riuscito rispetto ai lavori precedenti, lo stile narrativo, venato di intelligente ironia, rivela lo scrittore di razza; e sotto i suoi fendenti si sgretola la maschera di ipocrisia e di cinismo dietro la quale oggigiorno ci si nasconde nell'illusione di essere "buoni".​In particolare, ​ho apprezzato il modo in cui Hornby ha saputo calarsi nell'ottica della protagonista narrante, riproducendo con sorprendente precisione i meccanismi della psicologia femminile nei confronti del matrimonio, della vita familiare e dei rapporti interpersonali.​ Bello anche il finale "sospeso", perché a certi interrogativi, nati da certi presupposti ed alimentati da certe situazioni, non si può mai dare una risposta​ inequivocabile e risolutiva.
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Reviews
Norman Revill
Ok, so Hornby's a Gooner and his taste in music is not exactly mine, but he sure can write. Why do we read? To prove we are not alone? A never-ending attempt to understand the human condition? A quest for like minds? Search me. All of these and a lot more besides I would say. As with a lot of the novels I read, my wife saw this in a charity shop on a weekend away and bought it for 20p on a Saturday morning. By Sunday lunchtime I'd read it and told her she should read it too and then pass it on to our daughter, who lives on the Archway Road. My Islingtonian mate Butch would love this too, so he's also in the queue. Yes, it's a North London novel, like most of Hornby's early work, so I do feel that he's writing about my world, but it's also clever, insightful, damn funny and a very original premise for a writer. It's also very brave for a man to write as a woman in the first tense and Hornby brings it off superbly. So why do we do what we do? Do we ever lead a truly 'good' life? How important is it to try? Who gives a toss anyway? And how do we continue to cope as we get older? This witty tome probably raises more questions than it answers, but I liked Katie Carr and sympathised with her as her self-obsessed husband sets off on his voyage of discovery and her children inevitably take sides in the mayhem that ensues. 'DJ GoodNews' is a clever device, as the character who introduces the dilemma of living the good life and the fine lines it inevitably presents between naivety, practicality and living any kind of life at all. Hornby is a wise, witty and insightful man; a wonderful writer and someone who can make you laugh and make you think, even if he is a Gooner. Not bad for 20p.
Teijo Aflecht
The reason I really liked How to Be Good can be summarised with the following sentence: I don't know what people who think they're going to save the world are hoping to accomplish. So I liked it. Lots of funny sentiments expressed by the main character. [Slight spoilers ahead, though with this book I don't think it matters] Even in the second to last chapter she does things like telling her daughter, when she asks if her parents are getting divorced, "Not if you'll be good". I laughed out loud quite a few times, the wit is really sardonic and sarcastic.I also liked that there isn't really a clear resolution to the initial dilemma of how the hell can we live with each other. One of the few things I didn't like was the main character's constant flimsiness. In most scenes, she would start out feeling one way, then having been challenged finds some reason for thinking completely the opposite. It became a little too obvious towards the end.However, altogether How to Be Good was a surprisingly enjoyable read.
Ivan
Kaya wrote: "uh, šteta. Ja inače baš volim Hornbijeve knjige."Nisam čitao ništa drugo od njega tako da ne znam da li je ovo mi sam autor ne leži ili samo ova knjiga, mada 3.11 je jedan od nižih rating-a koji sam video na GR tako da je moguće da je okinuo ovu.Kažeš da nije loš?Možda mu onda dam drugu šansu jednog dana.
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