What makes life worth living? This is the fundamental question of Nick Hornby's "A Long Way Down" that is instigated by the attempted comical suicide of four strangers who coincidentally pick the same block tower to jump off of on New Year's Eve. This is definitely one of the quickest reads in recent memory and much of that has to do with Nick Hornby's swiftly elegant writing style, snappy dialogue and natural story-telling voice. He is one of my favorite authors with High Fidelity and About a Boy being two of the best novels I have read in my entire life so suffice it to say, my expectations were exceedingly high. It was naive of me to think that Hornby would be able to top himself with his latest work and while it wasn't a bad book by any means it definitely didn't resonate with me as much as I initially hoped it would. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more inspirational or profound (after all, his novel is about suicide and what makes life worth living) and it was niether. However, the greatest strength of this novel is that Hornby manages to be add a refreshing sense of humor to the gloomy subject matter and use it cleverly to expose the selfishly ridiculousness of committing such an act. I applaud Hornby for staying away from any kind of cliched redemption for his flawed characters and taking a more realistic approach that is funny as much as it is serious. If only the novel contained a little more depth instead of providing the obvious sentiments regarding suicide it would have truely reached a level of greatness. Fans of Hornby's previous novels should find it engaging but for newcomers to his work I wouldn't suggest this book as a good starting place.
It won't be long before some Hollywood studio purchases the rights to adapt this novel so for my own amusement I thought it would be interesting to cast who should star in the leading roles.
Clive Owen as Martin Sharp
James McAvoy as JJ
Imelda Staunton as Maureen
Emma Watson as Jess