How does Nick Hornby do it? Take a pretentious blogger geek, an almost-famous, now forgotten rock star with children scattered across two continents, a depressed seaside British town and a woman who has a weakness for the first two and make you love them all. The slacker theme, the mature-talking six year-old and the music geek we have seen before in “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy,” but the magic still works. It still makes a read that is as bracing and comforting as a hot cup of builder’s tea and makes you laugh out loud like the best kind of friend.
The heroine’s mathematical formula for calculating where 15 years have gone belongs in the literary pantheon with Sherman McCoy’s explanation of the bond market in Bonfire of the Vanities. This is not a book that will blow your literary socks off. Thank God.
Few other contemporary authors have the style, grace and good humor to pull off this kind of thing. If only they did. For a world with more Hornby but less writing-program tour de forces and too-clever-by-half stylistic experiments applied to dreary yet trendy themes would be a much better one