High Fidelity is one of my Top 5 All-time favourite movies.
(And not only because it's a Cusack movie).
Strange then, that I didn't realise for a few years that it was based on a book, and embarassing that I didn't realise, 'til I picked it up, this year, that it was a British book. Shame on me.
Rob Flemming is a 30something Record store owner, whose life has hit a bit of a rut. He spends his working day (in a store which has very few customers), hanging out with his social misfit employees, making up Top 5 lists about records. Then he gets ditched by his girlfriend Laura. At first he's feeling pretty freed by it, back to his batchelor ways, doing whatever he likes; playing his records up loud. But soon he's depressed again. He makes his 'Top 5 breakup' list, and goes back to revisit each ex-gf to find out what it all means, why is he doomed to fall in love and be dumped repeatedly. Through it all he's constantly trying to win back Laura from the hated hippy Ray.
I know at first glance, a book like this can seem somewhat shallow in premise, but it's hidden gem like that.
And it's hard to think that a book about a 30something depressed bloke born 15/20? years before me.. could be relevent to me, but I constantly find it totally relevent, maybe that says something about me, or maybe it's just an awesome book.
I love the first person narritive in this book. Rob's point of view interspersed with 'Top 5' lists, flash backs, reminiscing, little anecdotes and ponderings. And his internal voice is just so perfect, he's clearly a flawed character, but that's what makes the realism. These little bits like; describing the way Laura got stuck in the door on the way out, and he had to faff around - no dramatic cliches, it's just real and honest. I also love the unsure, questioning way he likes to make semi-profound statements about the way things are, but then turn back on it at the end of the statement.
See, Laura? You won't change everything around like Jackie could. It's happened too many times, to both of us; we'll just go back to the friends and the pubs and the life we had before, and leave it at that, and nobody will notice the diffecence, probably.
I think the best thing for me, about this book. Is that it's a great break from reading (as I so often do) hundreds of fantasy romances, where the 36 year old single woman finally meets the handsome rich vampire of her dreams and everything is magical and perfect.. well this book is for everyone who is depressed, and hates their life, wishes they worked somewhere else, wishes they were with someone else, but knows there is nothing magic about to happen to save them from it. It's about reflecting on your life and realising that if you're always wishing for a fantasy, if you're always wishing for the all-time number 1 life of your dreams, you might miss that you're ACTUALLY perfectly happy where you are with plain old (but really just as nice) number 5 on your top 5 list.
So.. how well did this book translate from book to screen? Well the movie removed some of the more uninteresting scenes, changed Rob's last name, and moved the setting from London to Chicago. In order to change it to an American setting, very little was messed with. Simply switch every intstance of the word 'Bollocks' for the word 'Bullshit', make Marie deSalle black (because being american in america doesn't make her unusual anymore), and change a few of the place names and a couple of the song references. But as far as I'm concerned the translation from book to movie was still near perfect. Am I biased because I watched the movie first? Possibly. But if you watched the movie and never read the book, I will still respect you in the morning.
When I review one of my rare 5 star books, I know I can never do them justice. I can't write a perfect synopsis, I can't pick a perfect quote, I can't even spell perfectly. But maybe since this is a novel about not being being perfect, maybe that's okay. All I can say is, I loved this book.