Duncan is a fan of Tucker Crowe, a singer-songwriter from the ’80s who’s last record Juliette was critically acclaimed. Out of the blue, Crowe abandoned his career. Duncan, and Annie are touring the United States on a pilgrimage to the homeland of his beloved1. Duncan spends much his time evaluating, critiquing, and discussing Crowe’s brief artistic output along with a small fanbase on the internet.
I am a fan, or at least was, and have spent way too much time on an internet message board dedicated to this band. The fictional message board in Hornby’s novel is filled with middle-aged men who are constantly discussing the work of a long retired musician. The real message board is filled with a vast array of twenty-somethings who rarely discuss the band in question, and more frequently are interested in Picode’s Thursday ritual, Anne’s bathtime, Danada’s over-informative posts, wondering who will bring the pop and chips2, pretending that Ed MacMahon was actually a friend of ours3, discussing Que’s Super-wang, or being told to suck a deaf white woman’s “big black cock.” I can relate to Duncan, I understand that internet community, I have made some of my best friends through this message board4, but I can’t relate to Duncan, because he looks down on his fellow Crowe-natics5, he’s their intellectual superior and is right about everything6.
Duncan and Annie return home from their American vacation to find an envelope addressed to Duncan. Duncan ignores it and goes to work, Annie opens it and discovers it’s a new Crowe release, Juliet, Naked, a collection of demos compiled together for the first time. Tension ensues, as Annie listens to it before Über-fan has a chance to, and worse yet, Crowe himself likes her negative review of the album, and contacts her.
I think that’s a place to stop in the story, doesn’t give away too much.
It’s a Nick Hornby novel. If you’ve ever read one of his novels, you know what to expect, love, rock and roll, hopeless relationships, the usual. In addition, it might be Hornby’s best novel. I don’t think he’s ever written for female characters before (or at least I don’t remember) and his writing of Annie is damn good. The characters are much more mature than in any of his previous work.
- Tucker, not Annie. [↩]
- We all know this will be GG. [↩]
- We miss you, ya Mary! [↩]
- Real life friends, too! One even lives across the street from me, and is the one who lent me the book. [↩]
- That’s Crowe and fanatics. [↩]
- I’m definitely right that PT is the worst record ever. [↩]
- SMB party time at the Horseshoe during the Thrush Hermit reunion! WOOO! [↩]
- I’m drunk. [↩]