Nick Hornby does a great job writing flawed characters that are enough like us to be accessible, and different enough to provide both interest and perspective.
Annie has been content to let life pass her by. She’s been in a job she isn’t excited by, living with a guy she’s not that excited by, sharing his hobby that she’s nowhere near as interested in as he is.
The guy is Duncan, the ultimate fan of Tucker Crowe, an obscure rocker from the 70s. Tucker disappeared completely at the height of his career, and Duncan is a leader of the group of fans still speculating on what happened to him. Duncan specializes in applying academic expertise to the analysis of Tucker’s music. He’s the sort of guy that plans his vacation around a tour of America, visiting spots of importance in Tucker Crowe’s life and musical career.
Annie enjoys Tucker Crowe’s music, but not the obsession Duncan shows. Nonetheless, she accompanies him on his pilgramage, where she starts to wonder if there really is more to life.
The third player in this story is Tucker Crowe himself. He’s every bit as screwed up as you’d expect an ex-rock star to be. He’s finally starting to redeem himself a bit with his relationship with his young son– the sort of relationship he does not have with any of his other 4 kids.
Duncan has an affair. Annie and Tucker strike up an on-line friendship. Tucker comes to visit one of his estranged daughters, and meets up with Annie. Madcap antics ensue, and everyone grows up at least a little.
The book is funny, mostly due to the situations these characters get themselves into. The humor makes the flaws of the characters less annoying, but also brings them to light.
Still, the flaws are part of what make the characters interesting and relateable. Two out of the three characters show considerable growth over the course of the book. It’s harder to tell about the remaining one, but there is hope there as well.
Production: I really appreciate the decision to use three different narrators. It really helped each character come to life, and really brought out the differences between their perceptions of life, and even of the same events.
Print or Audio? I think either will work for this book, although I do think it lent itself well to audio.