Not the Downer It Sounds Like
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is about four people who coincidentally meet on top of a skyscraper in London on New Year’s Eve. They’re not there to watch any fireworks, but they are there to start the year with a bang. They’re there to throw themselves off the building—celebratory suicides, if you will. Each has his or her own reason for deciding to end it all. Martin Sharp is a morning talk show host who did some hard time for having some frolicking time with an underage teenage girl. Maureen is a sheltered, middle-aged woman who is sadly tired of her life sentence of caring for her disabled, adult son. JJ is an American band member who can’t face losing his girlfriend and, more importantly, his music after the band broke up. Jess is an eighteen-year-old college student who doesn’t want to face the fact that the boy she slept with wants nothing to do with her. She’s a nutjob and one of the most disagreeable, unlikeable characters I’ve ever come across. She’s more self-centered, loud-mouthed, and obnoxious than any person has a right to be. She’s a true tosser or wanker. Take your pick. (Is that British term applicable to females? Maybe I should say “tosserette” or “wankerina.”)
I wouldn’t have missed her if she had taken the plunge, but she didn’t stop me from wanting to read on to see what happens to the hapless group. Spoiler alert—they do no jump. I’m not giving too much away, as I’m not sure how the book would continue with all the characters dead within the first few pages. Instead, they form sort of an unlikely support group. They occasionally meet to reassess if they should continue with the original plan or move forward.
Although the premise of the book is definitely a downer, I found the book quirky and quite entertaining. It’s worth a peek.
Update 11/5/14. I just watched the movie on DVD as it never came to our theaters. I liked it and even tolerated Jess, who somehow seemed a little more likable in the movie, even though she was still obnoxious.
|Pierce Brosnan, Toni Colette, and Rosamund Pike|