Samstag, 31. Dezember 2011

A long way down

A long way down by Nick Hornby was one of these novels I just couldn't resist reading, and it fits the season very well because it starts on a New Year's Eve.
Martin Sharp, a TV presenter who has lost his wife, his children, his job, his reputation, eighteen-year-old, desperate and misunderstood Jess, Maureen who has given up her whole life to look after her severly disabled son and unseccsessful, hopeless musician JJ meet by chance.
What do they have in common? All of them want to jump off the same roof.
And since it is not so easy to kill yourself with three other people queuing behind you they decide to try and help each other and agree on a suicide-ban until Valentine's Day when they want to meet up on the roof again.

A warning to begin with: this is not the typical "Now that I have found these great friends my life makes sense again!"-story. The four main characters have nothing in common apart from being suicidal: they argue all the time and sometimes they don't even like each other very much, but everyone needs the other's company.
I absolutely loved this book and I can see now why Hornby is considered a master of modern literature, not only has he written a wonderful yet realistic story, he also draws a perfect picture of the time we are living in.

What I did not expect from a book dealing with such dark themes as suicide and depression was that it would be so hilariously funny. The whole novel is filled with a dark sense of humour, but it is never disrespectful and hidden behind the humour is a deep wisdom.
Hornby's characters are very close to life: they are no saints, Martin for example is not amiable at all but I was     still drawn to him because he was at least honest and did not approve of his behaviour himself.

Something I liked very much was that the main characters did not all have traumatic experiences which drove them to almost jumping, JJ for example is just an unhappy person with a totally normal history.

I loved this book because it was simply so true, and I am judging this as someone who considered suicide very seriously not so long ago. Here is one of my favourite parts, it is from JJ's point of view (which explains all the swearing) and taken from the last 20 pages:

And suddenly, just for a moment, I felt good. (...) And maybe for the first time in the last few months, I acknowledged something properly, something I knew had been hiding right down in my guts, or at the back of my head - somewhere I could ignore it, anyway. And what I owned up to was this: I had wanted to kill myself not because I hated living, but because I loved it. And the truth of the matter is, I think, that a lot of people who think about killing themselves feel the same way - I think that's how Maureen and Jess and Martin feel. They love life, but it's all fucked up for them, and that's why I met them, and that's why we're all still around. We were up on the roof because we couldn't find a way back into life, and being shut out of it like that... It just fucking destroys you, man. So it's like an act of despair, not an act of nihilism. It's a mercy killing, not a murder. I don't know why it suddenly got to me.(...) Sometimes it's moments like that, real complicated moments, absorbing moments, that make you realize that even the hard times have things in them that make you feel alive.
What I liked perhaps most about the whole book is the ending: there is no fairy-tale-ending, the problems don't just disappear miraculously and neither do the characters embrace life passionately and vow to never let it go until it lets go of them. Not many things in the characters's lives do actually change and yet everything changes because they do.

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