Our book club just had it’s third meeting, where we discussed the book for August, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Hornby is one of those writers I’d like to like, but I just can’t. His other books, About a Boy and High Fidelity were fabulous as movies, but when it comes to the words on the page, the writing is just too clever and self-referential to be enjoyed.
A Long Way Down is about four people who run into into each other when they all go to the same building to leap to their splattery deaths. Then they all start talking and realize how much they are really alike. If this set up sounds familiar, it’s because The Breakfast Club with suicide instead of Saturday detention as the crux of the meeting.
Unfortunately, Hornby also borrows another cute Hughes-ian device – the aside to the reader/viewer (Ferris Bueller mugged to the camera a lot, fer instance) – and makes his characters mainly talk to the reader instead of each other. He uses a “telling the story from each character’s point of view” narrative style, which starts to seem like it’s just a way of avoiding writing dialogue.
I can’t comment too much on the story, since I was terribly late in picking up the book and only read the first hundred pages or so. The others did soldier through the whole thing – I told them not to worry about spoiling the ending for me – but I’m not sure anyone thought it was a smash hit or future favourite book. We discussed briefly the casting of the rumoured upcoming movie – will Johnny Depp play the Hornby alter-ego character JJ?
We set the bar pretty high at our inaugural meeting, where we discussed Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman and then made a cake. This meeting, there wasn’t much to tie in with a suicide theme, save the fact that my apartment building is near the Pattullo Bridge, a popular spot for jumpers and car crashes. (A distant cousin jumped there many years ago; I didn’t know him.)
This month’s book selection is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, chosen because it is often used in high school English classes (theme #1: back to school), and has also been banned in schools (theme #2). If you feel like reading up and joining us at a yet to be decided location for discussion and activities, please email me: maikopunk at yahoo.com.

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