Nick Hornby feeds on brainstorms. He gets and embellishes them. Consider the single-mother predator in “About a Boy” or the female protagonist in “How to be Good.” His is the fiction of bittersweet comedy, colloquial realism with a smile.
The problem here is not premise — four would-be suicide jumpers who meet on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve — but that their confessions gradually grow tedious. Martin, disgraced talk show host, and Jess, wild teen with what’s called “issues,” sparkle at times.
But Hornby’s American, JJ, goes nowhere fast. One epiphany is enough, two a crowd, four an annoyance. The book is relentlessly clever and ample in kindness, but short on anything that might make it memorable.