"Radio football is football reduced to its lowest common denominator." -- Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby (born 17 April 1957) is an English novelist and essayist. He is best known for the novels High Fidelity, About a Boy, and for the football memoir Fever Pitch. His work frequently touches upon music, sports, and the aimless and obsessive natures of his protagonists.
"Everything's complicated, even those things that seem flat in their bleakness or sadness.""I don't want my books to exclude anyone, but if they have to, then I would rather they excluded the people who feel they are too smart for them!""Sequels are very rarely a good idea, and in any case, the success of the book changed my relationship with the club in some ways.""The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.""We can't be as good as we'd want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?"
Hornby was born in Redhill, Surrey, England. He was brought up in Maidenhead, and educated at Maidenhead Grammar School and Jesus College, Cambridge. His parents divorced when he was 11.
Hornby has been married twice. He and his first wife have one son, born in 1992, who has autism. Hornby's second wife is producer Amanda Posey. They have two sons, born in 2003 and 2005. Hornby's sister, Gill, is married to writer Robert Harris.
Hornby's first published book, 1992's Fever Pitch, is an autobiographical story detailing his fanatical support for Arsenal Football Club. As a result, Hornby received the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. In 1997, the memoir was adapted for film in the UK and in 2005 an American remake was released, following Jimmy Fallon's character's obsession with the Boston Red Sox. With the book's success, Hornby began to publish articles in the Sunday Times, Time Out and the Times Literary Supplement, in addition to his music reviews for the New Yorker. High Fidelity ... his second book and first novel ... was published in 1995. The novel, about a neurotic record collector and his failed relationships, was adapted into a 2000 film starring John Cusack and a Broadway musical in 2006.
His second novel, About a Boy, published in 1998, is about two "boys" — Marcus, an awkward yet endearing adolescent from a single-parent family, and the free-floating, mid-30s Will Freeman who overcomes his own immaturity and self-centeredness through his growing relationship with Marcus. Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult starred in the 2002 film version. In 1999, Hornby received the E. M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Hornby's next novel, How to Be Good, was published in 2001. The female protagonist in the novel explores contemporary morals, marriage and parenthood. It won the WH Smith Award for Fiction in 2002.
Part of the money he earned with his next book Speaking with the Angel in 2002, was donated to TreeHouse, a charity for children with autism, the disorder that affects Hornby's own son. He was editor of the book, which contained twelve short stories written by his friends. He also contributed to the collection with the story "NippleJesus".
In 2003, Hornby wrote a collection of essays on selected popular songs and the emotional resonance they carry, called 31 Songs (known in the US as Songbook). Also in 2003, Hornby was awarded the London Award 2003, an award that was selected by fellow writers.
Hornby has also written essays on various aspects of popular culture, and in particular, he has become known for his writing on pop music and mix tape enthusiasts. He also began writing a book review column, "Stuff I've Been Reading", for the monthly magazine The Believer that ran through September 2008; all of these articles are collected between The Polysyllabic Spree (2004), Housekeeping vs. The Dirt (2006), and Shakespeare Wrote for Money (2008).
Hornby's novel A Long Way Down was published in 2005. It was on the shortlist for the Whitbread Novel Award. Hornby has also edited two sports-related anthologies: My Favourite Year and The Picador Book of Sports Writing.
Hornby's book Slam was released on 16 October 2007, is his first novel for young adults and was recognized by the Young Adult Library Services Association as a 2008 Best Book for Young Adults. The protagonist of Slam is a 16-year-old skateboarder named Sam whose life changes drastically when his girlfriend gets pregnant.
In October 2008, on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!, Hornby helped to name both a miniature and full-sized horse for two different Americans.
In November 2008, Hornby came No. 4 in The Times list of the "50 Worst Famous Football Fans". He was credited for, amongst other things, the fact that one is now likely to be sitting next to a solicitor at a football match.
Hornby released his latest novel titled Juliet, Naked in September 2009. On the same wavelength as his first novel High Fidelity, the book is about a reclusive '80s rock star who is forced out of isolation when the re-release of his most famous album brings him into contact with some of his most passionate fans. This synopsis was revealed to The Guardian newspaper as part of "What not to miss in 2009: books".
Several of Hornby's books have made the jump from page to screen. Hornby wrote the screenplay for the first, a 1997 British adaptation of Fever Pitch, starring Colin Firth. It was followed by High Fidelity in 2000, starring John Cusack; this adaptation was notable in that the action was shifted from London to Chicago. After this success, About a Boy was quickly picked up, and released in 2002, starring Hugh Grant. An Americanized Fever Pitch, in which Jimmy Fallon plays a hopelessly addicted Boston Red Sox fan who tries to reconcile his love of the game with that of his girlfriend (Drew Barrymore), was released in 2005. Johnny Depp purchased film rights to the book A Long Way Down before it was published. In 2009, Hornby himself adapted An Education for the screen, a feature film starring Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan. He was nominated for an Oscar for writing the screenplay.
After the release of "Songbook", McSweeney's accepted online submissions from authors writing about their favorite songs in the same manner as Hornby. These submissions were posted to the McSweeney's website. Additionally, The Blue Scarf is a blog adaptation of Hornby's collection. Australian satirist Matt Egan from Mortdale sights Hornby's work as being a main source of inspiration for his work.
High Fidelity was also the basis for a 2006 eponymous musical that shifted the action to Brooklyn; its book is by David Lindsay-Abaire, with lyrics by Amanda Green and music created by Tom Kitt. The production ran for a month in Boston, then moved to Broadway, closing after 18 previews and 14 regular performances.
The importance of music in Hornby's novels, and in his life, is evidenced by his long-standing and fruitful collaborations with the rock band Marah, fronted by Dave and Serge Bielanko. Hornby has even toured in the United States and Europe with the band, joining them on stage to read his essays about particular moments and performers in his own musical history which have had a particular meaning for him. The band typically follows each of Hornby's essays, about subjects including Bob Marley, Rory Gallagher and The Clash, by playing a song by each of those artists.
Hornby and Marah (whose small but intensely dedicated band of fans also includes Stephen King and Bruce Springsteen) have worked together on this project over time, and together put on a show of all the essays and songs, concluding with his essay about Marah themselves, and followed by a full concert of the band's own songs.
One of the main characters in Hornby's A Long Way Down, a down on his luck rock singer delivering pizzas in north London and considering suicide on New Years Eve, is widely supposed to have been inspired by Serge Bielanko's own experiences in London.
Hornby's music criticism (most notably for The New Yorker and in his own Songbook) has been widely criticised by writers such as Kevin Dettmar (in his book Is Rock Dead), Curtis White (in an essay at www.centreforbookculture.org, titled "Kid Adorno"), Barry Faulk and Simon Reynolds for his embrace of rock traditionalism and conservative take on post-rock and other experimental musics (exemplified in Hornby's negative review of the Radiohead album Kid A: "Beyond the Pale," New Yorker, 30 October 2000).
Hornby also has had extensive collaboration with American singer/songwriter Ben Folds, their album Lonely Avenue was released in September 2010, Folds wrote the music, with Hornby contributing lyrics. Prior to the album's release, "Picture Window", was released on Ben Folds' website. A bootleg version of a song about Levi Johnston written by Hornby and Folds and performed by Folds, appeared on the internet.
"Inarticulate Expression of Love" [radio transcript]. 2008. In Talking to Kinky and Karlheinz — 170 musicians get vocal on The Music Show ed. Anni Heino, 186—193. Sydney: ABC Books. ISBN 9780733320088.