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Book #27 - A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

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Jul. 20th, 2007 | 12:00 am

I was so impressed with the first Hornby book I read, How to be Good, that I decided to put the rest of his books on my want-to-read list. Unfortunately, this book didn't quite live up to the reputation I'd built him in my mind, though there were several profound passages that I've excerpted for your reading enjoyment. Oh, and I give it three and a half stars.

"When you're sad -like, really sad- you only want to be with other people who are sad. I didn't know this until that night, but I suddenly realized it just by looking at Chas's face. There was nothing in it... it was the eyes that gave him away: When he made that stupid joke... they were just laughing eyes, not frightened eyes or troubled eyes - they were the eyes a baby has when you tickle it. I'd noticed with the others that when they made jokes, if they did, you could still see why they'd been up on the roof even while they were laughing - there was something else in there, something that stopped them giving themselves over to the moment. And you can say that we shouldn't have been up there, because wanting to kill yourself is a coward's way out, and you can say that none of us had enough reason to want to do it. But you can't say that we didn't feel it, because we all did, and that was more important than anything" (83-4).

"A man who wants to die feels angry and full of life and desperate and bored and exhausted, all at the same time; he wants to fight everyone, and he wants to curl up in a ball and hide in a cupboard somewhere. He wants to say sorry to everyone, and he wants everyone to know just how badly they've all let him down" (103).

"You know that things aren't going well for you when you can't even tell people the simplest fact about your life, just because they'll presume you're asking them to feel sorry for you. I suppose it's why you feel so far away from everyone, in the end, anything you can think of to tell them just ends up making them feel terrible" (199).

"We all spend so much time not saying what we want, because we know we can't have it. And because it sounds ungracious, or ungrateful, or disloyal, or childish, or banal. Or because we're so desperate to pretend that things are OK, really, that confessing to ourselves that they're not looks like a bad move. Go on, say what you want. Maybe not out loud, if it's going to get you into trouble. I wish I'd never married him. I wish she was still alive. I wish I'd never had kids with her. I wish I had a whole shitload of money. I wish all the Albanians would go back to f**king Albania. Whatever it is, say it to yourself. The truth will set you free. Either that or it'll get you a punch in the nose. Surviving in whatever life you're living means lying, and lying corrodes the soul..." (257-8).

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