Author: Nick Hornby
Genre: Romance, Music
Faffing as defined by Urban Dictionary: Time wasting/feckin’ around
This definition is so you don’t immediately stop reading and run to Google when I say when High Fidelity is the greatest work of faffing I have ever read so far in my brief life. And now I kind of like how the word faffing sound against my teeth and I hope you will forgive me if I throw it out for the rest of the review in the same way Tim Horton customers and nary a dustbin make squirrels cry.
Spoiler warning I suppose, but then the plot meanders so much that you’ll probably lose any sense of shock of being spoiled if you give this novel a go. Set in the 90s, Rob, our early midlife crisis hero, runs a failing vinyl record store (which future hindsight will slap and call ungrateful when in a couple years he’ll be racking in sweet mullah when the hipsters arrive) and a ten year old relationship that suffers a (spoiler: temporary) setback when his long suffering girlfriend, Laura, leaves him. He goes off to faff at his job with his two employees, Barry and Dick, who faff with girlfriends, joining bands, and arguing about what music to play in the store. Spends whole chapters faffing about when fretting about who Laura’s mysterious new boyfriend, Ian, is. Faffs around with an American indie rocker and the dichotomy of one-night stands. Faffs his way through a funeral, does faffing nothing to impress Laura to get her to come back yet still does, and oh and surprisingly does not faff about his top five records, he just angsts about it. But this guy is a professional faffer (and I promise to stop using this word before I drift into the ironic misuse of the word). And to say that for the entirety of the book until the end, I had no idea what direction the story was heading is an understatement. Seriously, The Vinyl Café Stories have more action in them.
Now if this faffing (okay I lied) was all that it was, I would have chucked it by the end of chapter three, but the fact is, I did finish it (and true fact: If you are able to finish a book that you aren’t being graded for reading then it was at least engaging enough to reach the end) and I was able to finish it because while 90% of the plot is Rob angsting about relationships as he faffs about, it’s like how Steven Spielberg made us forget the stupidity of sending eight guys off to save one guy by forcing a hour’s worth of candlelight reflections and awesome World War 2 action until we threw up our hands and shoved an Oscar down his gob. Characters are made by soldiers griping about being considered less than another, and by 30-year old something bachelors living for nothing but conflicted apathy and the complexities of relationships.
Never more is this evident when said above American indie musician wants to get naughty with Rob who has experienced more one-night stands than fingers yet still frets of choking like a highschool virgin after prom. And you will be rightly entertained, or at least curious as Rob frets about his inability to understand why he isn’t winning at life and how to not find it oxymoronic to put long-term next to relationship.
Rating: Worth a visit to the library and killing time on the subway
By Joshua P’ng, A North York Writer