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Juliet, Naked

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Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between tw Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got. Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin -- his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the new material he's about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet — entitled, Juliet, Naked. What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.


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Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between tw Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life. In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got. Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin -- his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the new material he's about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet — entitled, Juliet, Naked. What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.

30 review for Juliet, Naked

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jayson

    (B) 75% | More than Satisfactory Notes: Well written but lacks vigor, excitement and soul. Characters change, but so predictably as to garner very little effect.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Why do we read? No, it’s not a rhetorical question. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot the last few days. I mean, yeah.. the obvious reasons… to access information, to brush up on our morality, because we’ve been assigned to. So we can have uh.. passionate discussions, hook up, impress, escape, retreat and regroup. So we don’t feel as alone as…As what? That’s for you to answer.. not me. So, Nick Hornby is one of my revered authors. He’s a downright O-M-G in my little realm of esc Why do we read? No, it’s not a rhetorical question. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot the last few days. I mean, yeah.. the obvious reasons… to access information, to brush up on our morality, because we’ve been assigned to. So we can have uh.. passionate discussions, hook up, impress, escape, retreat and regroup. So we don’t feel as alone as…As what? That’s for you to answer.. not me. So, Nick Hornby is one of my revered authors. He’s a downright O-M-G in my little realm of escapism. Others who live there are Hardy, Greene, Foer, Coupland, Kundera, Zusak and so on…. I may not be the most cultured of folk, but I know what I like and will (quietly) defend it. Juliet, Naked tore me from my reading rut. Will I lapse back? Perhaps. But, I did have this momentary glimmer and, I guess, that’s what life is about, right? There are 3 main characters in this book. Annie, a 39-ish small time museum curator who recently broke up with Duncan, a pudgy 40ish school teacher whose whole cultural life revolves around his obsession over Tucker Crowe--a Dylan-esque singer who pulled a Salinger in the mid 1980s and left behind one really great break-up album that fans have been pulling apart, analyzing, blogging, sitting-in-the-dark-woe-is-me-ing over for the past 25 years. Hmmm. I’m not really great with the whole ‘summation’ thing in reviews. I tend to write the non-review.. the ‘why is it important to me’ kind of review. But, I thought I should give you the basics. I think we also tend to read to find similarities in characters.. sometimes it’s about redemption, sometimes it’s about association, sometimes it's just to relieve the loneliness. Annie is on her own after 15 years in a bland, mostly platonic, relationship. Of course she’s going to ruminate. How could her life have been different if she didn’t waste her time on this guy? Why did he show more passion towards an unknown musician who crapped out one good album and disappeared? Then, comes the biggie… empowerment. She sees where she might have gone wrong, starts to make changes, starts to — live. Duncan is drab. He hides behind his computer and exerts all this energy on what happened to the great Tucker Crowe. He dissects his albums looking for some sort of epiphany. Hmmm. Epiphanies. Tucker is a recovering alcoholic who has five kids with four women and thinks he’s the biggest bullshit artist alive. I love Tucker. I’m sorry, this might be more than you need to know. But, tortured, dysfunctional, messed-up artists are my thing. Epiphanies and all that. So, these three characters weave in and out of each other’s lives like sands through time… I laughed, I cried, I hid in my room and stared at the wall. I guess that’s the best book jacket review I can give of this. Does it tell you anything about the book? About me? Meh. Another question… is the novel dead? I surely hope not. Because even though Juliet, Naked or High Fidelity isn’t life altering or shit like that. It means something to me and maybe to a few others out there. ”What do you do if you think you’ve wasted fifteen years of your life?” Are you kidding me? I don’t know if anyone ever told you, but I’m pretty much the world expert on this particular subject. I mean, obviously I’ve wasted more than fifteen years, but I’m hoping you’ll overlook the extra and look upon me as a kindred spirit anyway. Maybe even your guru. First of all, you have to get that number down. Make a list of all the good books you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, conversations you’ve had and so on, and give all of these things a temporal value. With a little bit of creative accounting, you should be able to reduce it to ten. I’ve got mine down to about that now, although I’ve cheated here and there—I included the whole of my son Jackson’s life, for example, and he’s been at school and asleep for a lot of the time-wasting years. I’d like to say that anything that comes in around a decade you can write off for tax purposes, but that isn’t actually the way I feel. I’m still pretty sick about what I’ve lost, but I only admit it to myself late at night, which is probably why I’m not the best sleeper. What can I tell you?” --- Tucker Crowe 9/7/18 addendum In no universe of mine is Ethan Hawke Tucker Carlson.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    If you’re familiar with Nick Hornby, or better still, if you’ve read this book, then the following quiz will test how well your impressions correlate with mine. If you’re not familiar with Hornby, but are clued in to my own predilections (a puerile sense of humor among them), this will measure your powers of observation. If you could hardly care less about me or ol’ Nick, but can’t pass up a chance to test your quiz-taking abilities, you might still enjoy having a go. Eliminating the barmiest ch If you’re familiar with Nick Hornby, or better still, if you’ve read this book, then the following quiz will test how well your impressions correlate with mine. If you’re not familiar with Hornby, but are clued in to my own predilections (a puerile sense of humor among them), this will measure your powers of observation. If you could hardly care less about me or ol’ Nick, but can’t pass up a chance to test your quiz-taking abilities, you might still enjoy having a go. Eliminating the barmiest choices will take you far. The book is about Duncan and Annie, who’ve been in a tepid relationship for 15 years living in a humdrum seaside village in the north of England. She’s a museum curator and he’s an amateur musicologist obsessed by the reclusive ex-singer-songwriter, Tucker Crowe, whose more limited popularity adds to his value in Duncan’s mind. Annie is surprised to find herself in e-contact with Tucker where they share regrets about lost time and the paths they’ve taken. Interplay ensues. From here, see if you can guess the answers to the quiz questions. 1. If we were to liken this book to a meal it would be a. A packet of crisps – just a snack, really, and not a very healthy one at that. b. A juicy burger with cheddar and a good, though not snooty, bottle of wine – familiar and tasty, substantial but not overdone. c. Poached Scottish Lobster with fennel puree, broad bean panisse and huckleberry emulsion – ultra-refined and highfalutin. d. Hot dogs and apple pie – as American as it gets; decidedly not bangers and mash with spotted dick. 2. A theme in previous Hornby books that was repeated in this one (though not necessarily concluding that it was right) was that a. Arsenal supporters are the salt of the earth and paragons of the English Premiership. b. Lists of favorite things should come in sets of five. c. It’s what you like, not what you are like that matters. d. Sprees should only ever be polysyllabic. 3. The title refers to a. Shakespeare performed in modern undress. b. The perlustration of a Gordian soul laid bare for us all to behold. c. A sandwich order at Sol’s Delicatessen . d. A new Tucker Crowe CD of old demo cuts put out 20 years after his far more polished album called “Juliet”; Duncan over-praised it, having been honored with the first public copy, and Annie panned it for being rough-hewn thus causing a rift. 4. Among rock star stereotypes from Tucker’s era, the ones for which he became best known were for a. Green M&Ms before a show to the exclusion of all others. b. Snappy comebacks when requests for “Free Bird” were shouted from the crowd. c. Wine and women (to accompany song – accompanying to excess). d. Spandex and vomit. 5. Tucker was increasingly self-aware, as which of these quotes would indicate: a. “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.” b. “The truth about autobiographical songs, he realized, was that you had to make the present become the past, somehow: you had to take a feeling or a friend or a woman and turn whatever it was into something that was over, so that you could be definitive about it. You had to put it in a glass case and look at it and think about it until it gave up its meaning, and he'd managed to do that with just about everybody he'd ever met or married or fathered. The truth about life was that nothing ever ended until you died, and even then you just left a whole bunch of unresolved narratives behind you. He'd somehow managed to retain the mental habits of a songwriter long after he'd stopped writing songs, and perhaps it was time to give them up.” c. "I rock, therefore I am." d. "I rocked, therefore I was." 6. Hornby’s most appealing traits as a writer stem from his a. Labyrinthine structuring and enigmatic presuppositions. b. Laconic dialog and ornamental prose . c. Dickensian post-modernism and Kafkaesque pastoralism. d. Rich character development and flowing, accessible style. 7. Back cover blurbs described Hornby as a. Witty, warm and emotionally generous. b. Unctuous, otiose, uncouth and unyielding . c. Serendipitous, existential and solecistic. d. Bald, bawdy and laddishly dissolute. 8. As a minor irritant we get a. 289 pages of endnotes. b. Wiki entries about Tucker’s career which, while clever to have included as a way to list facts, were unrealistically detailed and subjective. c. A pesky gnat that, as chaos theory suggests is possible, caused a train crash in Bolton. d. Certain GR reviewers who think increasingly in terms of gimmicks. 9. The book seems to suggest that a. It’s possible to venture too far into the cult of celebrity, especially when the internet brings these people together with mutually reinforcing geekiness. b. Regret for time lost can be poignant. c. Artistic integrity is a tricky thing once the artist is acclaimed for what he knows to be emotional frauds and egos get stroked. d. All of the above. e. None of the above. f. Some of the above. 10. The book lost a star off its rating in the end because a. It should include only one or the other, a zombie or a vampire, not both. b. A gun introduced in Act II must necessarily be fired in Act III. c. It lost its steam just when it would have been most interesting to see relationships develop and clear messages sent. d. "After all, tomorrow is another day" had already been done, and done better. Answers: (view spoiler)[ 1. b, 2. c, 3. d, 4. c, 5. b (a is a great quote, but that’s Tennessee Williams), 6. d, 7. a (some might be tempted to say d, but those only partially apply, and they were not included in the blurbs), 8. b (d may also be true, but is not the answer that pertains to this book), 9. d, 10. c (hide spoiler)]

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tony Mac

    The first half of this book is Hornby at his best – creating interesting, believable characters and exploring the dynamics of relationships with his usual ear for dialogue and understanding of people’s often highly personal obsessions and motivations. Surprisingly however, once all the characters are properly introduced and the scenario established, the author seems to lose his way. When the story should be gearing towards a climax with the central characters finally coming together its as if Ho The first half of this book is Hornby at his best – creating interesting, believable characters and exploring the dynamics of relationships with his usual ear for dialogue and understanding of people’s often highly personal obsessions and motivations. Surprisingly however, once all the characters are properly introduced and the scenario established, the author seems to lose his way. When the story should be gearing towards a climax with the central characters finally coming together its as if Hornby doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. As such, the story rather peters out into a series of mild encounters and predictable, half-baked resolutions. You get the feeling Hornby is deliberately trying to avoid the overly-dramatic, but in doing so he ends up delivering no kind of satisfying outcome at all. Ultimately its hard to see what the point of the novel actually is, except the rather patronising one - driven home with sermon-like zeal by the author - that all adult lives are eventually of little value unless at some point they involve raising children (‘raise’ being the operative word here – Hornby clearly has little respect for absentee fathers). All in all a book that starts well but ends up lacking a proper story arc and fails to deliver.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    “Juliet, Naked” spoke to me on a personal level at this point in my life, right after the end of a long term relationship. Nick Hornby really nails the emotions of a breakup, and the painful recognition of a stagnant life. So many folks are together because of the presence of a comfortable mundane routine. This novel deftly captures how that can trap you with the wrong person in a manner I have rarely seen so effectively used in modern literature. This book is about finding what really matters in “Juliet, Naked” spoke to me on a personal level at this point in my life, right after the end of a long term relationship. Nick Hornby really nails the emotions of a breakup, and the painful recognition of a stagnant life. So many folks are together because of the presence of a comfortable mundane routine. This novel deftly captures how that can trap you with the wrong person in a manner I have rarely seen so effectively used in modern literature. This book is about finding what really matters in life. As you get older the knowledge of what that is changes, and most of the novel’s characters get to that point in some form or another. There is remarkable characterization in this book. None of the characters are noble, all are a little odd, and they are so darn real. You recognize them, and yourself. Hornby has created people, just normal folks, with the good and bad mixed in together. For example, the character of Duncan, who is a douche, but is still a decent guy. Just really flawed…like most of us! The text is written in first person, from the alternating viewpoint (primarily) of three characters, with the occasional side trip into the mind of a secondary character thrown in. The device works as we get a well done, well rounded view of both sides of a breakup of a relationship, and also an inside view of a new relationship beginning. As I have stated, rarely has a book got into my head on such a level. “Juliet, Naked” is well written, nicely plotted, realistic enough to be satisfying, and honest and accurate enough about human nature to be a little unnerving, in a good way. I have read four of Mr. Hornby’s novels, and this one is the best of the bunch.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Well that was... extremely disappointing 😐

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    It’s funny, writing a review of this book, because in many ways, I’m Duncan, the obsessed fan who puts the book’s plot into motion. Nick Hornby is something of a hero of mine. I read a lot as a kid, but sort of got away from it as I got older, as it seems so many people do these days. But then I read ‘High Fidelity’ and it’s like something lit up inside me. I immediately devoured everything I could by Hornby (which, at the time, wasn’t much—‘About a Boy’ and ‘Fever Pitch’), and then moved onto a It’s funny, writing a review of this book, because in many ways, I’m Duncan, the obsessed fan who puts the book’s plot into motion. Nick Hornby is something of a hero of mine. I read a lot as a kid, but sort of got away from it as I got older, as it seems so many people do these days. But then I read ‘High Fidelity’ and it’s like something lit up inside me. I immediately devoured everything I could by Hornby (which, at the time, wasn’t much—‘About a Boy’ and ‘Fever Pitch’), and then moved onto authors that Hornby seemed to admire, most notably Dave Eggers (whose ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’ further changed me). When I finally met Mr. Hornby, years later, I was utterly speechless. I wanted to explain—eloquently, of course—the ways in which he’d changed my life. By reading more, writing more, thinking more…I became a more well-rounded person because of him. But how do you fit that into 30 seconds of a book signing? And do you even want to? It’s never good to meet your heroes—either they end up disappointing you, or you end up disappointing them. But that knowledge doesn’t put to rest the urge to tell them everything they mean to you. So I’m well-aware that the character of Duncan is a critique of Hornby’s own basest impulses—as an avid music-lover, he’s no doubt been in the position of the crazed fan more than once in his day--but I’m also keenly aware that it is a critique of people like me as well—the once great fans of Hornby who now come onto the internet to poke holes in their hero’s continued quest to make a living. It’s a little turnabout as fair play—how can you criticize this book without sounding like the snivel-y, whining fanboy who is the book’s biggest joke? But I really don’t have any great criticisms of this book. It’s been said that Nick Hornby is ‘chick-lit for men.’ And I think there is some truth to that. He’s certainly not Salman Rushdie or Upton Sinclair, writing about controversial topics aimed to bring about greater good for society. He’s simply a perceptive guy who has a talent for picking up on the little quirks that make life and pop-culture so interesting. And that’s all I really want from his books—I like smiling in recognition at my own quirks and flaws, and those of the world around me. Hornby’s world—Atlantic Ocean dividing them aside—is the world I inhabit. And I appreciate being surrounded by like-minded people, even if it’s only on a page. The greatest of these little truths that Hornby revealed in this book was the synthesis of art, and musical art in particular. I once wrote an essay for myself about an ex-girlfriend I had in college. Our relationship was a mess through and through—we were constantly breaking up and getting back together, and cheating on each other and breaking up again…it was a typical college relationship, in other words. And I remember, one summer day, when we were broken up, I was listening to a song that made me think of her. It was a playfully wistful song about longing for a lost love called ‘Maybe in an Alternate Dimension’ by a band called Ozma. And as I listened to this song and sang along, picturing my (ex) girlfriend and I being together again, I smiled. Not because I wanted her back, but because I recognized, even then, the ridiculousness of singing a song of wistful longing for that particular girl. She wasn’t the one. I knew that. She wasn’t worthy of songs of wistful longing. She was just the girl that I was dating then, and that’s all she’d ever be. I had even tried to write a song for her when I still played with my band, but they all came out wrong—angry, resentful. She wasn’t the type of girl who you wrote love songs about. So that made me think of the original subject of the song, the one who had inspired the singer of Ozma to write the song in the first place. Was she so special? Did she deserve to have a wistful love song written about her, by anyone? Maybe…but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t all peaches and sunshine. Because it never is. Songs—love songs, songs of wistful longing, breakup songs—they all exist in a vacuum. They’re almost never about a real person so much as an idealized version of a real person, or an idealized version of a fucked up relationship. Maybe the singer is singing about how much he loves the girl, and where did he go wrong and all that, but odds are he knew exactly where he went wrong—by sleeping with a groupie in the back of a tour bus. But nobody wants to sing along to that. And that’s what Tucker Crowe represents in ‘Juliet, Naked.’ He’s an artist who becomes self-aware enough to realize what a fraud he is. He sees hundreds of people singing along to songs he wrote about a girl he really didn’t even like all that much, and it’s too much for him. I don’t know that any rock star would really feel that way, but it’s certainly how we’d like to see them, and that’s why Nick Hornby is so great. He just gets it. He gets me, even though we’ve only had one awkward, stilted 30 second conversation. And you could make the argument that maybe this book tied together a little too nicely, and you could maybe nitpick that some of the characters were thinly sketched. But I don’t care. I enjoyed the heck out of it. So you can say what you want about this book, or Nick Hornby as an author, but I love his books, and this was his best in a while. He just gets it. He really does.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    All night I was going back and forth in my head as to whether to give this 4 or 5 stars, and as I couldn't think of a reason not to give it 5, I decided to do so. I really enjoyed this character-driven book. Hornby has a warm and generous talent for creating honest, flawed, likable characters. (And for those who might think Hornby can only create male characters, he's created a female protagonist here (Annie) that is as good as the main character (Katie) in How to Be Good.) Along with Hornby's f All night I was going back and forth in my head as to whether to give this 4 or 5 stars, and as I couldn't think of a reason not to give it 5, I decided to do so. I really enjoyed this character-driven book. Hornby has a warm and generous talent for creating honest, flawed, likable characters. (And for those who might think Hornby can only create male characters, he's created a female protagonist here (Annie) that is as good as the main character (Katie) in How to Be Good.) Along with Hornby's fun, witty (and sometimes sarcastic) humor, the book is also sprinkled with meditations on the internet, on parenthood, on the nature of art and talent and writing, making it all that much richer.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I went into this book thinking "Who would Hugh Grant play in the movie adaptation" and who would play all the other characters. I’ve settled on Emily Blunt for Annie, Hugh Grant as Duncan and Tucker Crowe to be played by Jeff Bridges. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun reading this book; it just fitted so well as an English Rom-Com and I enjoyed every minute of this book. There is no great depth to this book but it was a pleasure to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    Nick Hornby has written a number of very good novels focusing on music and the sometimes geeky males who become obsessed with it to the point where they never really escape their adolescence. In consequence, their romantic lives are usually a mess as well. Enter Duncan, an undistinguished British college professor is a small, backwater seaside town. Duncan, who teaches his students how to properly understand the significance of American television programs like "The Wire," has devoted much of his Nick Hornby has written a number of very good novels focusing on music and the sometimes geeky males who become obsessed with it to the point where they never really escape their adolescence. In consequence, their romantic lives are usually a mess as well. Enter Duncan, an undistinguished British college professor is a small, backwater seaside town. Duncan, who teaches his students how to properly understand the significance of American television programs like "The Wire," has devoted much of his life to the study of Tucker Crowe, an obscure American singer-songwriter who abruptly disappeared from view twenty years ago and who has not been heard from since. Duncan and a small handful of other Crowe addicts spend hours on the Internet, deconstructing Crowe's songs, speculating about what might have become of him, and tracking every rumor about the man. In their spare time, they tour various sites associated with Crowe, most notably the restroom in a Minneapolis bar where, legend has it, some unexplained catastrophic event led Crowe to abandon his fans and his career. Annie, a museum curator has been living with Duncan for fifteen years. She has patiently endured Duncan's slavish devotion to Crowe, but her relationship with Duncan has left her unfulfilled for a good long time, and only inertia has prevented her from moving on. Then, apparently out of nowhere Duncan receives in the mail a demo version of Crowe's most famous album, "Juliet." The new album is called "Juliet, Naked." Duncan is apparently the first of Crowe's fanatic fans to hear the CD, and, overcome by the honor, he posts a breathless review to the web, pronouncing the record brilliant. Annie feels differently about it and joins the online discussion about Crowe for the first time with a review describing what she feels are the record's shortcomings. This provokes a serious crisis in Annie and Duncan's relationship because she has dared to dissent from his "expert" point of view and because, in Duncan's view, she is too short-sighted to recognize a work of genius. It doesn't help that Annie opened the CD addressed to Duncan and listened to it before he could. The disagreement about "Juliet, Naked" finally calls into question the whole nature of the relationship between Annie and Duncan. Things then take another unexpected turn when the artist himself breaks twenty years of silence and sends Annie an e-mail message agreeing with her assessment of the CD. Thus begins a long-distance e-mail flirtation between Annie and Tucker Crowe. As is always the case, Hornby's characters, even the lesser ones, are all very well-drawn, and the story is very engaging and often hilarious. It will appeal to practically anyone who has enjoyed Hornby's previous books, to people who love music and musicians perhaps a bit too obsessively, and to the significant others who find themselves in relationships with such people.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This novel provides a satirical look at rock fandom practiced to an absurd degree. Or perhaps it’s a novel about losers who hide from their vacuous lives by imagining genius artistic talent in a rock star who disappeared years ago from public view. Either way it turned out to be a pretty good story. I approached this book with the expectation that I wasn’t going to like the book. I figured it was going to be about unhappy people making unwise life decisions as I have found true for some other pop This novel provides a satirical look at rock fandom practiced to an absurd degree. Or perhaps it’s a novel about losers who hide from their vacuous lives by imagining genius artistic talent in a rock star who disappeared years ago from public view. Either way it turned out to be a pretty good story. I approached this book with the expectation that I wasn’t going to like the book. I figured it was going to be about unhappy people making unwise life decisions as I have found true for some other popular novels. The book was all those things, but I found myself smiling, snickering, and once I even laughed out loud. In other words, humor saved to book and made it an enjoyable read. In case you're wandering about the title, this book doesn't contain much nakedness. "Juliet, Naked" refers to a CD album that is a followup to another album release about twenty years earlier named "Juliet." The singer has been missing in all the years in between which has allowed his fans to imagine all kinds of things about the missing artist. It turns out that the ex-girlfriend of the "expert" fan blogger was the only person able to get through to the missing singer. What sweet revenge it was for the jilted girlfriend on her know-it-all conceited ex-boyfriend. The ending provides a realistic amount of loose ends which is to its credit. There is sufficient sense of positive growth in the book's characters to feel good about the ending.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Nick Hornby is at his best when he writes about music. He has that inexplicable ability to convey what music means in a way that seems incredibly personal to him and yet universal at the same time. He’s so good when he writes about music that it often seems like he’s the first one to express that thought in such a wonderful way. He’s not so good at writing about relationships, which is why Juliet, Naked is about 50% great, 50% total crap, and 100% frustrating. First of all, if this book were writ Nick Hornby is at his best when he writes about music. He has that inexplicable ability to convey what music means in a way that seems incredibly personal to him and yet universal at the same time. He’s so good when he writes about music that it often seems like he’s the first one to express that thought in such a wonderful way. He’s not so good at writing about relationships, which is why Juliet, Naked is about 50% great, 50% total crap, and 100% frustrating. First of all, if this book were written by Nicolette Hornby it’d have a pink cover and there’d be some shoes and probably a shopping bag featured prominently. This is what I like to call “dick lit” which is really just chick lit written by a man. Instead of being about shopping, fucked up women who want a man, and the men they chase, it’s about rock & roll, fucked up men with commitment problems, and the women who want them despite all that. More >>

  13. 5 out of 5

    Trin

    You can really tell that it's been 15 years since Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity, and I mean that in the best possible way. Though I've always liked Hornby's writing--he's funny, he creates rich characters and never caricatures, and he's one of the few writers I can think of who tackles the topics of fannishness and obsession--High Fidelity, his first novel--and, according to many of my male friends, his best--has always bugged me a bit. The attitudes, especially toward women, of Rob and his fr You can really tell that it's been 15 years since Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity, and I mean that in the best possible way. Though I've always liked Hornby's writing--he's funny, he creates rich characters and never caricatures, and he's one of the few writers I can think of who tackles the topics of fannishness and obsession--High Fidelity, his first novel--and, according to many of my male friends, his best--has always bugged me a bit. The attitudes, especially toward women, of Rob and his friends are so condescending and creepy to me, and while the book doesn't actively endorse them, it (by which I mean, its author) still seems to let them slide with a shrug and a "what can you do?" I still remember a scene toward the end of the book where one of Rob's friends is introducing his new girlfriend around, with the line [from memory, heavily paraphrased:], "She used to like Simple Minds, but she understands now why that's wrong." I find this to be an entirely accurate depiction of a lot of geeky guys' attitudes toward women, yet I can't stumble across it without Hulking out a little bit. But 15 years later, you've got Juliet, Naked, which explores the darker side of that kind of dude--and doesn't let him get away with it. The dude in question this time is Duncan, who's obsessed with the reclusive and verging-on-forgotten musician Tucker Crowe. Duncan expounds at length on Tucker Crowe internet message boards about his favorite artist, in an "everyone's entitled to their own opinion and yours is wrong" kind of way. Wrong especially, in his mind, is his girlfriend Annie, who disagrees with him about the new bare-bones release of Crowe's last recording--a disagreement that's enough to make both Annie and Duncan realize they maybe aren't in love with each other anymore. And then Tucker Crowe starts emailing Annie. What impresses me so much about Hornby is that he understands the internet, and fannishness, and obsession, and regret--and not only that, he captures all of them really well. He understands people, and his warm, funny prose easily carries the narrative past some of the more Dickensian plot points. (I know from reading Hornby's Believer columns that he's a big fan of Chuck D., so I'm sure he'd be happy to hear that.) This book is a much more mature answer to High Fidelity, and I think it's easily my favorite of his novels to date. I really, really liked it--not enough to write thousands of words dissecting its every nuance on the internet, but I think we can all agree that that is ultimately a good thing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    unknown

    Pop culture references, check. Rock music obsession, check. A cast of adult males who act like stunted children, check. Yup, this is a Nick Hornby novel, all right. It's also his most entertaining book in quite a while, even if it is a retread of his most successful books (that would be High Fidelity and About a Boy). But then, I was no fan of How to Be Good or A Long Way Down, two books in which he tried to do something different. It's not that I love the original formula that much; it just doe Pop culture references, check. Rock music obsession, check. A cast of adult males who act like stunted children, check. Yup, this is a Nick Hornby novel, all right. It's also his most entertaining book in quite a while, even if it is a retread of his most successful books (that would be High Fidelity and About a Boy). But then, I was no fan of How to Be Good or A Long Way Down, two books in which he tried to do something different. It's not that I love the original formula that much; it just doesn't work for me when he strays from the path. Anyway, there's a lot of fun stuff here, from a skewering of overenthusiastic art criticism to fake Wikipedia pages, and even though it's pretty clear where the story is going, it's an amusing book. It's also thoughtful; there are passages about the way time can pass without you realizing that your life is passing you by, and suddenly you have wasted a decade in a relationship you knew really didn't have a future but were too listless to get yourself out of. That was... depressing actually. But it made me happy to be in a relationship I think does have a future at the same time. Which was... balming. Balmy? Not in a scent way. But the soothing. One thing I do find annoying any time I read a book about a made-up rock legend is that I can't listen to the made-up songs that are described with such reverence. Because they don't exist. Why don't your stupid fake songs exist, Nick Hornby? (Exception to the rule: King Dork, which included said fake songs at the end of the audiobook version. Dreams shattered; they were very annoying.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Annie, Duncan and Tucker find themselves in a strange love triangle. Annie and Duncan have been a couple for 15 years, but Duncan's obsession with former rock star Tucker Crowe has always been an issue. Now after years of being a recluse, an acoustic version of Tucker's famous album "Juliet" has been released, fanning the flames of Duncan's fanboy web postings - and making Annie question their relationship more than ever. Add in Tucker emailing Annie and this threesome just got a little more com Annie, Duncan and Tucker find themselves in a strange love triangle. Annie and Duncan have been a couple for 15 years, but Duncan's obsession with former rock star Tucker Crowe has always been an issue. Now after years of being a recluse, an acoustic version of Tucker's famous album "Juliet" has been released, fanning the flames of Duncan's fanboy web postings - and making Annie question their relationship more than ever. Add in Tucker emailing Annie and this threesome just got a little more complicated. Oh Nick Hornby, I adore you, but this was not one of your best books. The story was just a little flat, the humor a little thin. Although the last few pages give a smidge of redemption, it was just a little too little too late. Annie, Duncan and Tucker were just all too whiny for my liking (and this is coming from the girl who LOVED the story about a group of suicidals by the same author). To use the British vernacular, they were all three kind of wankers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I am not much of a reviewer. My reviews tend to entail saying “That was awesome” or “That was ok”. I’m pretty good at rating things, x out of 5 stars or whatever. Unless there’s some ambivalence or caveat, which there often is. I guess I’m not so good at rating things. When I do come across something I loved and want to share, I tend to cite quotes and passages as a way to tell people why they need to read/watch the intended work. Because I prize comedy above all else, funny, stand-alone, microco I am not much of a reviewer. My reviews tend to entail saying “That was awesome” or “That was ok”. I’m pretty good at rating things, x out of 5 stars or whatever. Unless there’s some ambivalence or caveat, which there often is. I guess I’m not so good at rating things. When I do come across something I loved and want to share, I tend to cite quotes and passages as a way to tell people why they need to read/watch the intended work. Because I prize comedy above all else, funny, stand-alone, microcosmic passages are often enough. Not always, though. Like right now. I am faced with a dilemma. I have just read an amazing book by a writer who apparently only writes amazing things that I think everyone should read. And in this case, stand-alone passages won’t do, because it’s the intricacies of the text, all the things in it that interlace, that create its best moments. On several occasions while reading Nick Hornby’s new novel, "Juliet, Naked", I was compulsed to stop reading and laugh “with inappropriate volume and vigor, and at preposterous length” (as a character in the book once did). Sometimes I had to put the book down for fear of laughing it out of my grasp. Then I would pause, compose myself, read the bit again, and laugh again, slightly less vigorously. Then I would continue reading. It was these moments, these moments of sheer beauty, that I wanted to share, that I want everyone to experience. But the thing is, they cannot be captured, explained outside of their context. These moments are developed upon and developed upon throughout the course of the story, so subtly you don’t notice until you’re dropping the book from laughing. These moments are so joyously experienced because of everything else that you read up to that point. So you see, a mere passage would invariably fail in trying to convince you—yes YOU—why you need to read this book. There are passages that stand on their own just fine, of course; e.g.: "He put the hot dogs in the shopping cart and then took them out again. What percentage of smart girls were vegetarian? It couldn’t be as high as fifty, right? So the chances were that she ate meat. He put them back in the cart. The trouble was that even young female carnivores wouldn’t eat red meat. Well, hot dogs were pinky orange. Did pinky orange count as red? He was pretty sure the strange hue was chemical rather than sanguine. Vegetarians could eat chemicals, right?" I guess I should qualify, for those of you who don’t prize comedy above all else, that this was not your average mere laughing at a joke kind of laughter, nor was laughter my only physical/verbal/visceral response to the novel. It is the kind of laughter and response you are rewarded with when you let a writer take you down a path they made, and you follow them unquestioningly, and you might get lost, but you trust them, and they show you so many things about art and life and humanity that are funny and absurd and beautiful and obnoxious and real. And they pull you along, and you follow, and you listen to every word they say and look at every sight they point out, until they have you wrapped around their fingers and their brains and their pens. You lose your will you follow them so strong, and then it all pays off, because they show you the most artsy and alive and human thing you can imagine. And you laugh, you laugh a whole lot, and any nervousness about following them is gone, because you’ve been rewarded, and your soul pulses in a rush of ripe elan, and you love it, and you love it, and you keep following, because you know they’ll give you even more. And they do. That is why you—yes, YOU—should read Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. It’s Not A Book; It’s An Experience. 5 out of 5 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pete W

    You may wonder what the point is in reviewing books one doesn't like. In this particular case the point is saving you the precious moments you might have spent reading this tedious composition of utter dross. I understand that Nick Hornby is one of the most popular writers in the UK, which shows I probably don't understand much. I've never read any of his other books, and after reading this, never will. To the point (which is, I hasten to mention, something this book does not find itself in posses You may wonder what the point is in reviewing books one doesn't like. In this particular case the point is saving you the precious moments you might have spent reading this tedious composition of utter dross. I understand that Nick Hornby is one of the most popular writers in the UK, which shows I probably don't understand much. I've never read any of his other books, and after reading this, never will. To the point (which is, I hasten to mention, something this book does not find itself in possession of): This is a book in which some dull, neurotic, misdirected characters indulge in a dull, neurotic, misdirected adventure in middle-aged stupidity. If the basic premise of the book (an over-the-hill once-famous songwriter meeting an over-the-hill museum curator on the internet) wasn't dire enough, the way that Hornby manages to make the reader feel as if he is celebrating neurosis and emotionally stunted characters will soon put you off this story. The sad thing is that Hornby can write. He has wit, he has sparkle. He just lacks maturity, wisdom and anything resembling profound insight. It took me almost two weeks to read this slim volume. I did so that you won't have to: avoid.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Juliet, Naked is the story of a woman becoming aware that she’s stuck in a life that does not meet her expectations or make her feel fulfilled. Her long-term boyfriend primary joy in life is analyzing the work of a forgotten 1990s indie rock star named Tucker Crowe, who released one beloved album, vanishing forever in the middle of a gig. Duncan lives for analyzing his lyrics and theorizing on his whereabouts. Annie can't help but feeling annoyed by this infatuation and is tired of going nowhere Juliet, Naked is the story of a woman becoming aware that she’s stuck in a life that does not meet her expectations or make her feel fulfilled. Her long-term boyfriend primary joy in life is analyzing the work of a forgotten 1990s indie rock star named Tucker Crowe, who released one beloved album, vanishing forever in the middle of a gig. Duncan lives for analyzing his lyrics and theorizing on his whereabouts. Annie can't help but feeling annoyed by this infatuation and is tired of going nowhere. When Duncan gets an advance pressing of unreleased stripped-down demos of Crowe’s classic album Annie leaves a comment on Duncan’s blog that will prompt the start of a correspondence between her and Tucker Crowe. Annie is an intelligent, witty and well put-together woman at a crossroads, she has too many responsibilities and is afraid it is too late to seize the opportunity to change things and have a life of her own. Tucker is the falling star that slowly discovers his life has been a wreck but does not know how to come to terms with his past mistakes, his only possibility to redemption being his youngest son who Annie quickly bonds with. This is a novel about growing up and growing old, about how our fantasies have little to do with reality and is a reminder that icons are real people too, and most of their times they don't even want to be idolized. It's real and bittersweet. Hornby's style.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Donna Radcliff

    When I started this book, I didn't really didn't care for it, but it wasn't so bad that I couldn't finish it. Then, somewhere close to the middle, I suddenly realized I really liked Juliet, Naked. I don't know how it happened, but there you go. The three main characters are Annie, a young woman closing in on forty who gave up 15 (and her most fertile)years to Duncan whom she never was really all that in love with anyway. Duncan is a rather boring, nerdy professor and an obsessive devotee to Tuck When I started this book, I didn't really didn't care for it, but it wasn't so bad that I couldn't finish it. Then, somewhere close to the middle, I suddenly realized I really liked Juliet, Naked. I don't know how it happened, but there you go. The three main characters are Annie, a young woman closing in on forty who gave up 15 (and her most fertile)years to Duncan whom she never was really all that in love with anyway. Duncan is a rather boring, nerdy professor and an obsessive devotee to Tucker Crowe, an 80's rock n roller who walked away from his career, and life, after releasing his most well received album Juliet, Naked. Now closing in on 60, Tucker has two, soon to be three, ex-wives,too many ex-girlfriends, and 5 kids, of which only one has known him as a real dad. And he doesn't know what to do with any of them. Connecting through a Tucker Crowe fan-site, Annie and Tucker begin an email relationship that naturally leads them to meet each other when he comes to England. There's a lot of humor, sadness, regrets, anger and bitterness (the anger and bitterness mostly from the ex's and kids). I ended up rereading the first part of the book with a much better understanding of what Hornby was trying to say. I definitely will read more of his work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wingedbeaver

    Only Nick Hornby could make me want to listen to a musician who doesn't exist. Hornby's descriptions of his fabled character and his genius albums made me want to download all his music on to my IPod, but I had to keep reminding myself that there is no Tucker Crowe, there is no "Juliet". I became so invested in the characters and their music obsessions that I wanted to hear it too, I wanted to be able to make my own decision on Crowe's legacy. Outside the music Hornby makes great points about wha Only Nick Hornby could make me want to listen to a musician who doesn't exist. Hornby's descriptions of his fabled character and his genius albums made me want to download all his music on to my IPod, but I had to keep reminding myself that there is no Tucker Crowe, there is no "Juliet". I became so invested in the characters and their music obsessions that I wanted to hear it too, I wanted to be able to make my own decision on Crowe's legacy. Outside the music Hornby makes great points about what the word success means and what it means to each of us. He also comments on the craze of celebrity that has overtaken society and what it says about who were are as people. I want to say that this is Hornby's best work since High Fidelity, but after thinking about it for a few weeks I might feel different and realize it isn't that good at all just his newest work and it was more that I wanted it to be his best then actually being his best and then it will be to late because this will already be posted for everyone to read and I won't be able to take it back and I'll feel stupid, so I'll just say I liked it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Georg

    My personal Nick Hornby career was literally “A Long Way Down”. 5 stars for “High Fidelity”, 4 stars for “About a Boy”, 3 for “Fever Pitch” (ok, the book was better but I don’t like Arsenal), 2 for “A Long Way Down” and one for “Slam”. So why did I buy (and read) “Naked”? First because I was curious what would come next after one star. Second because someone from my NY-community told me that Neil Young had a short appearance in “Naked” as he had in “High Fidelity”. If only with “Farmer John” fro My personal Nick Hornby career was literally “A Long Way Down”. 5 stars for “High Fidelity”, 4 stars for “About a Boy”, 3 for “Fever Pitch” (ok, the book was better but I don’t like Arsenal), 2 for “A Long Way Down” and one for “Slam”. So why did I buy (and read) “Naked”? First because I was curious what would come next after one star. Second because someone from my NY-community told me that Neil Young had a short appearance in “Naked” as he had in “High Fidelity”. If only with “Farmer John” from the “Ragged Glory” album, but more than nothing. And this time I was not disappointed. Admittedly the story is a little far-fetched and constructed and reminds me of some Hollywood plots for the X-mas season (my suggestion: Jack Nicholson as Tucker and Renée Zellweger as Annie). And there is this kind of bourgeois message that only parenthood and hard work give your life any meaning (“The two biggest parts of a man’s life were his family and his work,…”, p. 225). But there are wonderful episodes and characters that are really funny just like in “High Fidelity”. First of all (though only as a supporting actor) Malcolm the judgemental psychiatrist who drives Annie crazy with his grandfatherly advice. “Malcolm went quiet. Annie knew that this was a technique analysts were supposed to use. If they waited long enough, then the person undergoing analysis would eventually shout out “I slept with my father!” and everyone could go home.” (p. 83) Then there is this Tucker Crowe fan-club on the internet (the so-called “Crowologists”) which only consists of superstitious (and patronizing!) retards who would not even recognize their idol if he came to visit them singing “You And Your Perfect Life” (Tucker’s most famous song). And – last but not least – there is Terry who leads a museum but should be exposed there as the most stupid. “All the more to have a drink, then. Always helps me, when I’m under the weather.” [Terry:] “He’s not under the weather,” said Annie. “He’s a recovering alcoholic.” “Oh, you’d just be normal here. When in Rome and all that.” (p. 233)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    "Juliet, Naked," Nick Hornby's charming new novel about love and music, sounds like a song we've heard before, but who's complaining? After all, we always expect Bruce Springsteen to sound like Bruce Springsteen, and we want him to play "Glory Days" over and over again. In the same spirit, "Juliet, Naked" echoes the melodies we know from "High Fidelity," Hornby's breakout novel -- could it be 14 years ago? -- about a lovelorn music fanatic. Nobody captures the zealous devotion and bizarre intensi "Juliet, Naked," Nick Hornby's charming new novel about love and music, sounds like a song we've heard before, but who's complaining? After all, we always expect Bruce Springsteen to sound like Bruce Springsteen, and we want him to play "Glory Days" over and over again. In the same spirit, "Juliet, Naked" echoes the melodies we know from "High Fidelity," Hornby's breakout novel -- could it be 14 years ago? -- about a lovelorn music fanatic. Nobody captures the zealous devotion and bizarre intensity of amateur music snobs better. Yet Hornby's own writing on the subject, in the Believer and his irresistible collection "Songbook" (2002), is marked by modesty and insight. He gently satirizes rockaphiles in a way that only endears him to them, and though this new novel will appeal to a broad audience for romantic comedy, anyone with a fading poster of Van Morrison will hum along, too. The opening scene presents a classic example of ludicrous devotion: "They had flown from England to Minneapolis," Hornby begins, "to look at a toilet." Naturally, this isn't just any toilet; it's the hallowed restroom of a small club in which a once famous musician named Tucker Crowe experienced a life-altering epiphany 22 years ago and then vanished: "No new recordings, no gigs, no interviews. . . . That toilet has a lot to answer for." The person demanding answers from this life-changing toilet is Duncan, an Englishman and one of the greatest "Crowologists." He's wrapping up a three-week "Tucker Crowe pilgrimage" across America, visiting any place that holds a Crowe connection. He and a few hundred other middle-aged men around the world -- "the Crowe community" -- keep the flame burning on their slavish Web sites and message boards, subjecting every old note, lyric and rumor about Crowe's personal life to Talmudic examination. He's a marvelous creation -- "a boring, faithless nerd," only sporadically aware of how pathetic his obsession is -- but the real focus of this novel is his partner, Annie. After years of sleepwalking through life with Duncan, she's bored but can't generate enough energy to break free. Childless and lonely, she works at an ailing seaside museum, a sad reflection of her static, archival existence. "She had genuinely believed," Hornby writes, "that not doing things would somehow prevent regret, when, of course, the exact opposite was true." She and Duncan have been living in the suspended animation of graduate school for so long that they've almost given up hope. "Annie felt less like a girlfriend than a school chum who'd come to visit in the holidays and stayed for the next twenty years." She might have wasted another 20 years with Duncan and his Internet buddies if not for the surprising release of a new CD by Tucker Crowe called "Juliet, Naked," a collection of acoustic demos of the songs on Crowe's old cult classic "Juliet." An argument over the new-old album brings Annie and Duncan's frustrations with each other to the surface and precipitates a highly unlikely encounter with Crowe that transforms their lives. As usual, Hornby's dialogue between exasperated women and clueless men hits all the right comic notes. The likable slackers who mope through his stories appeal to that stuck and frustrated adolescent in us all. While wicked novelists like Jonathan Franzen or Claire Messud expose our pettiest thoughts and snicker at them, Hornby's gentle satire of arrested development offers a comforting, shame-free sense of recognition. You may want to knock some sense into his Peter Pans, but you also want to give 'em a hug. That's particularly true of the faded songwriter at the center of "Juliet, Naked," Crowe himself. Though he's left a number of disappointed girlfriends, wives and children in his wake, he's nothing like the mysterious genius whom Duncan and his fellow Crowologists gossip about every night on the Web. Clearly, Hornby is channeling some of his own chagrined amusement with the awkwardness of fame. Several years ago he wrote an essay about how strange he felt when "suddenly all sorts of people, people I didn't know or like or respect, had opinions about me and my work. . . . And I was shown this horrible reflection of myself and what I did, a funfair hall-of-mirrors reflection, all squidged-up and distorted -- me, but not me." Crowe experiences that same sense of disorientation, but the novel subjects his greatest fan to a witty bit of comeuppance, too. Some of the story's sweetest episodes involve Crowe's anxious 6-year-old son, the musician's last shot at redeeming his dissipated life. Tempted to slide back into his old habits, this befuddled dad realizes, once again, that in the end it's not about what he wants, it's about a boy. For all his laddish expertise, Hornby has perfect pitch for the poignancy of parenthood. It's no surprise that his first literary love was the novels of Anne Tyler. You can hear her quirky mixture of comedy and moral anguish playing in the background of "Juliet, Naked." Still, I can't help feeling a little disappointed that this immensely talented writer isn't willing to move outside his comfort zone. So much of this new novel recalls his earlier work, including a tendency toward cloying moralizing, and 400 pages is a lot to balance on the back of one's charm. "Juliet, Naked" suffers from a kind of chronic mildness, the literary equivalent of Easy Listening. The title is more erotic than anything between these covers, and even a surprise heart attack is of the distinctly non-threatening kind that nudges the plot along without breaking a sweat. Yes, Hornby deserves all the success and affection he's received, but it's time to pick up the tempo. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    If it's Nick Hornby there would probably be some music, thought I. And of course, it even had headphones on the cover. I like it when Hornby writes about the music. Also, I like when he writes about people. People listen to music in his books. Always. What I liked about this book the most was an unusual situation and a funny twist to it. I didn't particularly like the characters - there was so much about the egos, egos, EGOS!!! at times it was just too much. I mean - I agreed with many things, b If it's Nick Hornby there would probably be some music, thought I. And of course, it even had headphones on the cover. I like it when Hornby writes about the music. Also, I like when he writes about people. People listen to music in his books. Always. What I liked about this book the most was an unusual situation and a funny twist to it. I didn't particularly like the characters - there was so much about the egos, egos, EGOS!!! at times it was just too much. I mean - I agreed with many things, but... I guess the never ending ego-fest (and we had three POVs to observe) got just too tiresome at some point. And the book started falling flat... It was still a nice and easy read but not exactly the one you'll remember for long, alas. (Just like this review...)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    In Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby returns to his favorite stock character: the emotionally stunted fanboy. He’s considerably older, though, and somehow more distasteful in his petty obsessiveness, perhaps because we are finally allowed to see him through the eyes of the long-suffering woman who wasted the best years of her life hanging around him. Duncan’s obsession with Tucker Crowe, an obscure singer-songwriter who has not released any new material after his seminal 1986 album, Juliet, is not just In Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby returns to his favorite stock character: the emotionally stunted fanboy. He’s considerably older, though, and somehow more distasteful in his petty obsessiveness, perhaps because we are finally allowed to see him through the eyes of the long-suffering woman who wasted the best years of her life hanging around him. Duncan’s obsession with Tucker Crowe, an obscure singer-songwriter who has not released any new material after his seminal 1986 album, Juliet, is not just a weekend hobby. He drags Annie, his live-in girlfriend of 15 years, through obscure corners of America in a voyeuristic quest for his reclusive idol. At one point in their trip, Duncan asks Annie to take a photo of him pretending to pee in a smelly rock club restroom where he thinks something pivotal had happened to Crowe. Annie is glad that the toilet couldn’t talk, because otherwise, “Duncan would have wanted to chat to it all night”. It doesn’t get better back home; Duncan is also a self-appointed world-class ‘Crowologist’ who spends an inordinate amount of time on his website about the singer with his fellow obsessives. They have no time for marriage and children, and now, herself pushing forty, Annie feels that her chance for happiness has withered away along with their dead-end relationship. When Crowe unexpectedly releases a demo tape of Juliet (subsequently known as Juliet, Naked by fans), Annie gets her double chance at revenge: first by listening to the album ahead of Duncan (unthinkable!), and then by writing a negative review of it on Duncan’s website (how dare you!). Duncan considers her lack of appreciation for the new album to be a fatal moral failing and leaves her for another woman. Surprisingly, the great Tucker Crowe himself agrees with Annie’s assessment and begins to write confessional emails to her, divulging nuggets of information that Duncan would give his right hand for. His own marriage failing, Crowe heads to England to visit one of his numerous children from former relationships, taking his youngest with him. Then, in a bid to escape reunion with assorted abandoned children and ex-spouses, he goes to stay with Annie in Gooleness, the dreary coastal town where Annie and Duncan live. Will Annie find a second chance with Crowe? Will Duncan be cured of his obsession after meeting his all-too-human idol in the flesh? Will serial husband /absentee father Crowe finally gets it right? If this were an earlier Hornby novel, say High Fidelity, or About a Boy, the answer to these questions (after a certain amount of angst) would be a resounding Yes. But we are in a different territory here. The landscapes of middle age are different from those of early adulthood, and some people are probably just too set on their way to tread another path. I am giving this novel four stars, but actually it’s more like three and a half stars. Hornby is in a fine form here, but the ending somehow feels anticlimactic after so much build up earlier on, and some parts with Crowe and Annie feel redundant to the point of dullness. There is no laugh-out-loud moments, instead, the humor comes from Hornby's ribbing of the internet fanboy culture and the earnest errors that it propagates. "Dear God", indeed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I've grown weary of Nick Hornby's archetypal obsessive, emotionally stunted fan boy. It was funny the first few times. The big change-up here is that we see the fan boy (Duncan) mostly through the eyes of the woman he annoys (Annie). And Duncan is obsessed with a washed-up, reclusive American songwriter named Tucker Crowe who's likened to Bob Dylan, Springsteen, and/or Leonard Cohen approximately 42 times throughout the book. Annie is a compelling character, and Nick Hornby is still a good story I've grown weary of Nick Hornby's archetypal obsessive, emotionally stunted fan boy. It was funny the first few times. The big change-up here is that we see the fan boy (Duncan) mostly through the eyes of the woman he annoys (Annie). And Duncan is obsessed with a washed-up, reclusive American songwriter named Tucker Crowe who's likened to Bob Dylan, Springsteen, and/or Leonard Cohen approximately 42 times throughout the book. Annie is a compelling character, and Nick Hornby is still a good storyteller, and it's easy to imagine this novel turned into a film. But his heavy-handed writing drives me crazy. For example: "Tucker had mentioned in his e-mail that he was single again, so...she didn't need to spell it out. (She wanted to be honest with herself, but honesty didn't mean having to complete every sentence, not when the missing subordinate clause suggested so much emptiness.)" And also: "If this conversation were a prophet, it would be one of those scary Old Testament guys, rather than gentle Jesus, meek and mild." This sentence made me want to throw the book out the window.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    There was a book that also came out last year called "The Song Is You", which touched on similar themes of music and obsession. I strongly disliked it. The themes fare much better in Nick Hornby's hands. Even his fanatics have their sympathetic sides. I feel more for his characters because they feel more like real people. It's to his credit that the one scene that I dreaded as inevitable never happened, and much better scenes happened instead. As always, his prose seems effortless. If the goal of There was a book that also came out last year called "The Song Is You", which touched on similar themes of music and obsession. I strongly disliked it. The themes fare much better in Nick Hornby's hands. Even his fanatics have their sympathetic sides. I feel more for his characters because they feel more like real people. It's to his credit that the one scene that I dreaded as inevitable never happened, and much better scenes happened instead. As always, his prose seems effortless. If the goal of makeup is to make it seem like you're not wearing makeup but you woke with a healthy glow, Hornby does the same with what are no doubt carefully chosen words. I can't remember the last time I read four hundred pages in a day and a half.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Williams

    I really loved this book. I could not put it down once I started reading it. It was a happy, feel good to me. I loved all the characters. I was a little let down at the end when Annie, the main character, did not end up with the man of her dreams, although the book did leave room for a sequel. She fell so hard for this man and he made her so happy after being in a really bad relationship So it ended with her not needing her therapist any more. Which is always a good thing. I know this was made i I really loved this book. I could not put it down once I started reading it. It was a happy, feel good to me. I loved all the characters. I was a little let down at the end when Annie, the main character, did not end up with the man of her dreams, although the book did leave room for a sequel. She fell so hard for this man and he made her so happy after being in a really bad relationship So it ended with her not needing her therapist any more. Which is always a good thing. I know this was made into a movie and I'll be watching it as soon as I can to see all this likeable characters come to life. I've read this author before and I always enjoy him. Will definitely be reading again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    This reads very much like a classic Hornby. The writing, the same somewhat flat characters, the cliched scenarios, the same overly sentimental moralizing (but not as bad as his worst). I like Hornby, so it is certainly readable. But there isn't much to it. A problematic theme of the novel is characters using problematic metaphors. I guess Hornby is trying to achieve narrative authenticity (normal people don't normally devise brilliant metaphors), but having this pointed out over and over again g This reads very much like a classic Hornby. The writing, the same somewhat flat characters, the cliched scenarios, the same overly sentimental moralizing (but not as bad as his worst). I like Hornby, so it is certainly readable. But there isn't much to it. A problematic theme of the novel is characters using problematic metaphors. I guess Hornby is trying to achieve narrative authenticity (normal people don't normally devise brilliant metaphors), but having this pointed out over and over again gets old. > She had to concede, reluctantly, that there was another interpretation of recent events: the problem wasn’t the empty box, but the metaphor.

  29. 4 out of 5

    James

    There seems to be a school of thought that unless Nick Hornby conjures up another fever pitch or high fidelity what's the point? Seems rather unfair to the writer and in this particular case would mean missing out on a fine funny novel. Everyone knows an obsessive like Duncan and everyone has felt like Ann wondering where their life went and is it to late. I like that the book comes up with a resounding no it isn't. It probably is but that's the great thing about fiction. Umm reading the above I There seems to be a school of thought that unless Nick Hornby conjures up another fever pitch or high fidelity what's the point? Seems rather unfair to the writer and in this particular case would mean missing out on a fine funny novel. Everyone knows an obsessive like Duncan and everyone has felt like Ann wondering where their life went and is it to late. I like that the book comes up with a resounding no it isn't. It probably is but that's the great thing about fiction. Umm reading the above I need to give myself a stern talking to about cutting Nick some slack.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Nick Hornby has been one of my favorite British writers, since I discovered High Fidelity (first as a movie, I admit!) 10 years ago. Until now, of the three books I've read by him, I'd say they rank 1. High Fidelity, 2. How to Be Good and 3. About a Boy in terms of my liking of them/the story's staying power. I struggle with where to add this one to that ranking, but it's not 1 or 2. I really wanted to delight in this book, and it gave me several good hours of enjoyment, even some gleeful laughs Nick Hornby has been one of my favorite British writers, since I discovered High Fidelity (first as a movie, I admit!) 10 years ago. Until now, of the three books I've read by him, I'd say they rank 1. High Fidelity, 2. How to Be Good and 3. About a Boy in terms of my liking of them/the story's staying power. I struggle with where to add this one to that ranking, but it's not 1 or 2. I really wanted to delight in this book, and it gave me several good hours of enjoyment, even some gleeful laughs in the last 100 pages. But overall, there was a creeping sense as the story progressed that parts of it were contrived. Maybe just a bit too convenient, too neat. And for each line that resonated with the quiet truth of observation focused on the thing being observed rather than how the observation reflects on the observer, there were lines that slipped through as just a bit too self-considered. The ending's gaps and uncertainty fit aspects of the story line, sure. But ultimately it left me feeling that Hornby had taken on a question he didn't know how to answer satisfactorily: how do we deal with a mid-life realization that more is behind us than ahead, a sense that one's past has been poorly spent? How do we deal with our mortality? As with How to Be Good, he's taken on ambitious material, but in that case I don't recall being quite as disappointed. Here, I kept wishing he had dug a bit deeper, wrestled with the material a bit longer. I must be honest, though: I'm increasingly tired of books that see no way for relationships to go through hard times but for the couple to split. It's got to be one of the most-abused cliches in modern storytelling (written and visual): that a couple going through conflict will shortly part or cheat or both. While I recognize that happens, I've also seen a lot of the other kind of marriage. The marriages that endure cancer, depression and other hardships, yet make it almost 70 years. The marriage where one spouse is grossly unfaithful, yet the two stay together and eventually find their way to a season of more than mutual endurance but actual sweetness. These things happen. They're hard-won and under-reported, but they're possible. So why don't more novelists wrestle with how they happen? Well, I digress, and that's not my underlying reason for being ultimately disappointed with this, but I found myself liking Tucker and Annie and Jackson enough that I wanted something good for them -- something solid. Instead, it feels like I've got a handful of cloud that's already evaporating as I watch it. A sad feeling to have about a book that, in it's best moments, conjured a world one wanted to linger in.

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