Punk Love Not Dead

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Opening sentence, page one and I am already smitten. It’s always interesting to read about love and relationships as told from a guy’s point of view because you can clearly see the glaring, frighteningly obvious contrast from that of the female perspective. It’s highly amusing and at its very best, hilarious. Although it can be inevitably obnoxious at some points, whaddaya know, it can be surprisingly enlightening too. Note to self: See what reading with an open mind does?

“It would be nice to think that as I’ve got older, times have changed, relationships have become more sophisticated, females less cruel, skins thicker, reactions sharper, instincts more developed. But there still seems to be an element of that evening in everything that happened to me since; all my other romantic stories seem to be a scrambled version of that first one. Of course, I have never had to take that long walk again, and my ears have not burned with quite the same fury, and I have never had to count the packs of cheap cigarettes in order to avoid mocking eyes and floods of tears… not really, not actually, not as such. It just feels that way, sometimes.”

My expectations, I must say, had been met and so much more. I liked that Rob, our main character, is as genuine as he is unapologetic for being so. His candid humor in narrating the relationships that mattered the most in his life plus his unabashed, honest principles on women and dating make for a very potent, opinionated voice that speaks in behalf of all the laidback, passive-aggressive males of his generation.

It’s charming that a major portion of the book is devoted mainly to his argument that he is not at all devastated when Laura broke up with him. It’s funny ’cause in my mind I keep picturing Rob as this guy doing a powerpoint presentation complete with bullet points and background data re: being TOTALLY UNAFFECTED by their relationship fall-out, which is of course an absolute lie. Oh boys and their old hat trick of defense mechanism. It’s adorable.

I also love that music has been a recurring theme all throughout the book, which is rightfully so, since Rob owns a record shop of rare vinyl albums and vintage EPs. Just about the perfect lifestyle to compliment his seemingly hipster personality, methinks. I always think it’s brilliant whenever actual songs and bands are referenced in books to give readers a better understanding of what the characters really feel. Also, because it helps broaden my not-so-extensive knowledge on legit ‘cool music’ as per the definition and standards of actual cool persons.

This book does not wear rose-colored glasses and did not compromise with euphemisms—High Fidelity is man enough to tell you Rob’s story as it is—straightforward, brutally honest, but still with tenderhearted tough-love. Darliza told me this is her favorite book on relationships and it’s easy to see why: the quirky characters and the offbeat vibe of the era they live in gives us a good taste of the many complexities of a relationship and its many ups and downs. My favorite thing about the book is how it started with Rob telling us about his first encounters with love from as early as he could remember, recounting all the experiences leading up until that moment where he and Laura are at the verge of falling apart . From thereon, Rob starts to get to the heart of things by retracing his steps backwards once more by finding his former girlfriends, flings and sweethearts to further see and understand the part of him that needed fixing.

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”

High Fidelity is a story of love, grown-up because it explores the great male (and okay, sometimes female) fear of the big C-word—commitment—and how learning how to embrace it ultimately changes us for better and for good, no matter how difficult.

What can I say? Hornby rocks some monumental romantic socks!

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