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4 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

A Long Way Down: A Novel

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CJ Halladay, February 22, 2014 (view all comments by CJ Halladay)
"A Long Way Down" is a beautiful mix of voices and ideas weaving their way down this road of life. Told in alternative voice of four characters who come together under negative circumstances, this novel shows both the depth of despair and the beauty of simple endurance. Characters are each loveable but flawed. The humor is subtle, but perfectly fit into the story. I am not normally a Nick Hornby fan, but I found myself unable to put this book down. This is a worthwhile read, especially before the film is set to come out.
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Liza, November 9, 2008 (view all comments by Liza)
A touching, heartbreaking and often hilarious story about four people who meet atop a building in London, each planning on jumping to their death. Instead, they become an unusual support group for each other. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, and Hornby's trademark humor is throughout.
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(6 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)
heathersina, November 2, 2007 (view all comments by heathersina)
At first, I was shocked by what was actually going on in the first chapter of the book, but as you read more about each character, you sympathize and your heart breaks for some of them as they deal with their inner struggle. Beautifully written.
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(10 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
Melissa Fonzino, June 3, 2007 (view all comments by Melissa Fonzino)
A surprisingly upbeat and humorous, yet touching, tale about 4 people who meet on the roof of a building on New Years Eve when they are contemplating suicide. I'm a big fan of Hornby's and despite some lukewarm reviews this is among my favorites of his books!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594481932
Author:
Hornby, Nick
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
London (england)
Subject:
Suicidal behavior
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
May 2, 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.02x5.14x.94 in. .60 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

A Long Way Down: A Novel Used Trade Paper
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Product details 352 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781594481932 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Nick Hornby is the Dickens of our time. He's beloved by countless readers who don't otherwise care about novels. In the guise of effortless entertainment, his populist style delivers profound truths about the human condition. Both authors shaped novels to suit the media opportunities of the day: Dickens's were born of magazine serialization; Hornby's are screenplays waiting to happen. Nowadays, we are all orphans. Discuss.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "If Camus had written a grown-up version of The Breakfast Club, the result might have had more than a little in common with Hornby's grimly comic, oddly moving fourth novel. The story opens in London on New Year's Eve, when four desperate people — Martin, a publicly disgraced TV personality; Maureen, a middle-aged woman with no life beyond caring for her severely disabled adult son; Jess, the unstable, punked-out daughter of a junior government minister; and JJ, an American rocker whose music career has just ended with a whimper — meet on the roof of a building known as Toppers' House, where they have all come to commit suicide. Bonded by their shared misery, the unlikely quartet spends the night together, telling their stories, getting on each others' nerves even as they save each others' lives. They part the following morning, aware of having formed a peculiar sort of gang. As Jess reflects: 'When you're sad — like, really sad, Toppers' House sad — you only want to be with other people who are sad.' It's a bold setup, perilously high-concept, but Hornby pulls it off with understated ease. What follows is predictable in the broadest sense — as the motley crew of misfits coalesces into a kind of surrogate family, each individual takes a halting first step toward creating a tolerable future — but rarely in its particulars. Allowing the four main characters to narrate in round-robin fashion, Hornby alternates deftly executed comic episodes — an absurd brush with tabloid fame, an ill-conceived group vacation in the Canary Islands, a book group focused on writers who have committed suicide, a disastrous attempt to save Martin's marriage — with interludes of quiet reflection, some of which are startlingly insightful. Here, for example, is JJ, talking about the burden of understanding that he no longer wants to kill himself: 'In a way, it makes things worse, not better....Telling yourself life is shit is like an anesthetic, and when you stop taking the Advil, then you really can tell how much it hurts, and where, and it's not like that kind of pain does anyone a whole lot of good.' While the reader comes to know all four characters well by the end of the novel, it's Maureen who stands out. A prim, old-fashioned Catholic woman who objects to foul language, Maureen is, on the surface, the least Hornbyesque of characters. Unacquainted with pop culture, she has done nothing throughout her entire adult life except care for a child who doesn't even know she's there and attend mass. As she says, '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.' Hornby takes a Dickensian risk in creating a character as saintly and pathetic as Maureen, but it pays off. In her own quiet way, she's an unforgettable figure, the moral and emotional center of the novel. This is a brave and absorbing book. It's a thrill to watch a writer as talented as Hornby take on the grimmest of subjects without flinching, and somehow make it funny and surprising at the same time. And if the characters occasionally seem a little more eloquent or self-aware than they have a right to be, or if the novel turns just the tiniest bit sentimental at the end, all you can really fault Hornby for is an act of excessive generosity, an authorial embrace bestowed upon some characters who are sorely in need of a hug.175,000 first printing. (June) Tom Perrotta's most recent novel, Little Children, has just been published in paperback by St. Martin's Griffin." Tom Perrotta, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Hornby's real talent is for dialogue, which is sharp, funny, and dripping with sarcasm. Take out the inner discourse, the ill-conceived group vacation, and the bewildering circular rants in between, and you've got a pretty salty bit of black humor. That is, take out all the bits that make A Long Way Down a novel, and you've got a tidy little comic screenplay....Unfortunately, A Long Way Down is not a cheeky British Hugh Grant snark-fest but a novel with pretensions at depth, theme, and story — and a lazy one at that." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[Hornby] expands far beyond his usual territory....The true revelation of this funny and moving novel is its realistic, all-too-human characters, who stumble frequently, moving along their redemptive path only by increments."
"Review" by , "[A] well-executed and thoughtful tale that never digs too deep and simultaneously doesn't denigrate the seriousness of its characters' dilemmas. Highly moving and lively storytelling: Hornby's gifts become more apparent with each outing."
"Review" by , "[A] maudlin bit of tripe....[T]his cringe-making excuse for a novel takes the sappy contrivances of his 2001 book, How to Be Good, to an embarrassing new low....[A] sappy and utterly predictable novel."
"Review" by , "The sitcom contrivance of [Hornby's] set-up...becomes a writing trap; so does his decision to rely on the first person in a story that cries out for some objectivity, since his narrators aren't very insightful about anything but their own bad moods. (Grade: B-)"
"Review" by , "In spite of the seriousness of the novel's main theme — suicide — [it] contains many funny moments....With A Long Way Down, Hornby has written one of those books that if you get into it, the ride is wild and enjoyable."
"Review" by , "A Long Way Down works in enough analysis of its humans' conditions to entertain without overwhelming a strong story."
"Review" by , "[A] mordant, brilliant novel....For a story that begins with one foot off the cliff, it's hard to imagine a novel more darkly and sublimely devoted to life."
"Review" by , "Hornby is an engaging enough writer to wring a whole lot of enjoyment out of a flimsy and somewhat off-putting plot. A Long Way Down is not his best book, but calling it his worst — while technically true — is still misleading."
"Review" by , "That rare and unexpected creature, a playful novel about suicide....It's more about what happens when you don't kill yourself, and the tale Hornby subsequently tells is an unusual and unpredictable one."
"Review" by , "The tireless bickering, especially between Martin and Jess, makes one wonder why the foursome doesn't kill one another. There are flashes of Hornby's talent for the tragicomic in Martin...but overall, this is a slip-up."
"Review" by , "Hornby seems to have sent his ordinarily tuneful (and hilarious) ear on a holiday. One character sounds like the other sounds like the other sounds like the other. This might seem a small problem, but it wrenches the book's most important leg out from beneath it."
"Review" by , "By using suicide as a 'meet cute' premise, Hornby introduces into the book a sour, artificial flavor that — despite clever writing and engaging characters — he's never quite able to mask."
"Review" by , "Hornby took a risk with the premise of A Long Way Down, as it teeters on the edge between believability and authorial manipulation, but his narrative is so winning that only the least game of readers will refuse to play along."
"Review" by , "[P]erhaps the funniest and most exhilarating novel ever written about group suicide....Only a cynic would not see A Long Way Down as a long way up from much modern fiction, which seems to have been written to supply us with reasons to jump."
"Review" by , "A Long Way Down overreaches and under-reaches at the same time....Despite the seemingly serious premise, what Hornby has produced is not a profound novel about death wishes, but a pedestrian one about lifestyles."
"Review" by , "[T]he premise of the story is so implausible that it would make difficult fodder for a comic TV sketch, let alone a novel of more than 300 pages....A Long Way Down is almost certain to disappoint Hornby's legion of longtime fans."
"Synopsis" by , In his eagerly-awaited fourth novel, New York Times bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.
"Synopsis" by ,

In his fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

"Synopsis" by ,

In his fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

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