Juliet, Naked and Nick Hornby: A bit of his life

Juliet, Naked is a mash-up of my favourite Nick Hornby novels, covering the music scene like High Fidelity and exploring the relationship between kids and grownups like About A Boy. So, yes, it’s entertaining. Probably, it would be even better as a movie. There are enough sweet and funny moments in this story about celebrity and the internet and the fragility of love and marriage.

I can’t forget the scene where Tucker Crowe, a burnt-out American singer-songwriter, goes to bed with his biggest fan’s live-in companion, Annie — and his six-year-old son, Jackson, walks in.

Jackson wants to sleep with his father. He knows his parents have reached breaking point and is afraid his father might die because Tucker has just had an operation.

Hornby knows children’s needs and fears.

He says in this video:

Jackson does have a relationship with my six-year-old in that he went through a period, thankfully now stopped, of being incredibly worried about everybody’s mortality.

He adds:

I’d say the point where I connect with Juliet, Naked autobiographically is the stuff about the consumption of art maybe. But when you are a writer, it can be very confusing. You want an answer all the time. You want to be told is this book good or not your book. And, of course, you can’t get an answer because someone will tell you it’s rubbish and someone else will tell you it’s a work of genius. And so you’re constantly sort of working through this in your mind: what does this mean that two intelligent people respond so violently differently maybe to the same piece of work. And you can’t square that, I don’t think, so I’d say that some of that comes out in the book.

Duncan, the fortysomething English college teacher who is Tucker’s biggest fan, and his companion, Annie, disagree sharply over Tucker’s new CD — an acoustic version of his classic album, Juliet.

Duncan — who calls the new album Juliet, Naked — posts an ecstatic review on his website. Annie posts a rebuttal. That is how they get to meet Tucker, who hasn’t been heard from for 20 years. He sides with Annie.

Duncan eventually agrees with them that, yes, he was wrong — Juliet is better than Juliet Naked. But he tells Tucker he has no right to dismiss what his fans think of him because it is they who have made him a cult hero: his reputation is built on their recognition.

Hornby here says he wrote those lines based on what his fans tell him about High Fidelity. He says:

People take great pride in telling me how many times they have read it. And you do worry for them. You think there are other things they should be reading. But you are actually denying people their emotional connection with something that you’ve written. And that’s kind of patronizing. And I think the different reactions to Juliet and Juliet, Naked in the book incorporate some of that.

Here are reviews of Juliet, Naked from the Independent, Times Online, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

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