review: Juliet, Naked

NOTE: Writing reviews is hard. I wish I could just spin myself around really fast and strain out the relevant contents of my brain, martini shaker-style, to be consumed by others so that they could just absorb why I like or didn’t like something and we could just come to some kind of Understanding and be done with it. But the neurological implications of this practice would probably be pretty grim, so I’ll just keep trying to do it this way.

Practice makes Better Than You Were Before, as no one says.

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I went on a Used Nick Hornby Novel Buying Binge several months ago ( can be a dangerous place). A review of approximately 1/6th of my purchases:

Juliet, Naked / Nick Hornby (2009)

In a shabby, seaside hole of a town in England lives Annie and Duncan, an unmarried couple whose relationship seems to be on a steady path to nowhere (“steady path to nowhere?” Who writes this shit? Seriously? Oh, wait). Duncan is singularly obsessed with an American folk singer-songwriter who suddenly went off the grid  years ago after a short burst of a promising career. The release of a “new” album of this artists’ work (“Juliet, Naked:” acoustic, studio demos of his Most Famous Album, “Juliet”) gets the plot moving along a much twistier road to potentially More Exciting places.

The story is told in third person but jumps between different characters’ perspectives. This is good – great, really – because it bends plot points that might ordinarily seem far-fetched into something much more plausible (Nobody Resident of shabby, seaside hole of a town beginning an online relationship with Formerly Famous American Folk Singer-Songwriter? Really?)

But Juliet, Naked is engaging and well-written and quite original. Hornby’s got a knack for really digging into and unpacking (he uses that phrase a lot in this one: ‘unpacking’) the guts of relationships, romantic and otherwise. And he also does a good job of not tying everything together into a neat little package – which, while refreshing, is sometimes maddening when it seems that everything else is coming together in the plot.

But hey, that’s life to a T, isn’t it?

3.5 / 5 stars.

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