Was it all true? Yes. Yes, he had sworn in front of the children. Yes, he had forgotten to pick Em up from her after-school dance class and left her to cry in the rain. Yes, he’d had a public argument with Joe’s football coach and another dad had pulled him away. Yes, he’d come home drunk at five p.m. on Christmas Eve and slept until ten the following morning. Yes to a thousand other idiocies, forgettings, mistakes, and bad decisions. And anyway, he was pretty sure that his mother had heard these stories before. Many of them had been party pieces jokes told at his expense, sometimes by Elaine, sometimes by Charlie himself. Everybody laughed. That’s what family stories were-amusing accounts of the messes and fuckups. Take away the love and the laugher, narrate the stories as if the characters had acted with malice and self-absorption, and everybody was in a bleak independent film about alcoholism and schizophrenia and child abuse.
Nick Hornby, Everybody’s Reading Bastard.
An awareness of one’s own mortality is not necessarily accompanied by a corresponding sense of maturity. John Kinsella is, to all outward appearances, a mature man, but he is precise about how old he feels:’10.’ I laugh. ‘Seriously, I really don’t feel as though my mentality had changed at all in the last 50 odd years. I feel sorry for the women: they are the ones who mature. Men just stay struck.’ It is hard to see the ten year old under the tie and V-neck and the clouds of Senior Service smoke, but the observation is a familiar one, and is probably the closest we will ever come to a one-line explanation of the terrible state of the world.
Nick Hornby para “The Guardian”, 1995
Duncan knew that he and Elliott weren’t the same. Elliott had surely never written about Crowe- or, if he had, the work would almost certainly unpublishable. Duncan also doubted whether Elliott had the emotional maturity to appreciate the breathtaking accomplishment of Juliet (which, as far as Duncan was concerned, was a darker, deeper, more fully realized collection of songs than the overrated Blood On The Tracks), and nor would he have been able to cite its influences: Dylan and Leonard Cohen, of course, but also Dylan Thomas, Jonny Cash, Gram Parsons, Sheley, the Book of Job, Camus, Pinter, Beckett and early Dolly Parton.
Nick Hornby, Juliet, naked.
And it is only when I have shut the bedroom door for the third or fourth time on my husband and children in order to find out how Vanessa Bell’s life was better than my own that I work it out. It is the act of reading itself I miss, the opportunity to retreat further and further from the world until I have found some space, some air that isn’t stale, that hasn’t been breathed by my family a thousand of times already. Janet’s bedsit seemed enormous when I moved into it, enormous and quiet, but this book is so much bigger than that. And when I’ve finished it I will start another one, and that might be even bigger, and then another, and I will be able to keep extending my house until it becomes a mansion, full of rooms where they can’t find me. And it’s not just reading,either, but listening, hearing something other than my children’s TV programmes and my husband’s pious drone and the chatter chatter in my head.
What happened to me? However did I get into my head that I was too busy for all this stuff? Maybe I can’t live a rich and beautiful life, but there are rich and beautiful things for sale all around me, even on the Holloway Road, and they are not an extravagance because if I buy some of them then I might be able to get by, and if I don’t then I think I might go under. I need a Discman and some CDs and half-a-dozen novels urgently, total cost maybe three hundred pounds. Three hundred pounds for a mansion! Imagine asking a building society manager for thee hundred pounds! He’d give you cash out of his own pocket (…)… but I need the Discman. I don’t want anyone else to hear what I am hearing, and I want to be able to block out very last trace of the world I inhabit, even if it is just for half-an-hour a day. And yes, yes: just think how many cataract operations or bags of rice could be bought for three hundred pounds. And just think how long it would take a twelve-year-old Asian girl to earn that in her sweatshop. Can I be a good person and spend that much money on overpriced consumer goods? I don’t know. But I do know this: I’d be no good without them.
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. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.