Book #4: Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

“Anyway, I’m sorry for the bum steer, and readers of this column insane enough to have run down to their nearest bookstore as a result of my advice should write to the Believer, enclosing a receipt, and we will refund your $14. It has to say No Name on the receipt though, because we weren’t born yesterday, and we’re not stumping up for your Patricia Cornwell novels. You can pay for them yourselves.”

Nick Hornby is like Ernest Hemingway in that the only way I like to read a book of his is when it’s non-fiction conversational babble. With Hemingway this was Movable Feast, and with Hornby it’s Polysyllabic Spree which is a collection of his columns from the Believer. At the beginning of each chapter, he lists all of the books which he bought that month (a very substantial quanitity which makes me wish he was a regular at my bookshop) and the books which he read. The column then proceeds to explicate on the books he read and what he thought of them. Thoughts which are usually humorous enough that I found myself reading them outloud to whoever the poor chump who happened to be beside me at the time.

My favorite excerpt from the book is from the beginning where Hornby is telling of how when you write books you can’t resist looking around the hotel swimming pool to see if anyone happens to be reading your novel.

“I was cured of this particular fantasy a couple of years ago, when I spent a week watching a woman on the other side of the pool reading my first novel, High Fidelity. Unfortunately, however, I was on holiday with my sister and brother-in-law, and my brother-in-law provided a gleeful and frankly unfraternal running commentary. “Look! Her lips are moving.” “Ho! She’s fallen asleep! Again!” “I talked to her in the bar last night. Not a bright woman, I’m afraid.” At one point, alarmingly, she dropped the book and ran off, “She’s gone to put out her eyes!” my brother-in-law yelled trimphantly.”





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