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JimPhelps, Life in Madison

Book – “Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby





I just finished reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. This is a very funny, laughing out loud and waking up your wife, story based on a dark theme. Four people meet on top of the Toppers building on New Years Eve. Each has come up to commit suicide. The four very different people become intertwined by their common goal and their desire to understand how they reached the top and how they can stay alive.

The four characters are excellently envisioned. Each one is pure to their character in their thoughts and behavior. The tale is told by cycling through each characters first-person voice. Each person’s character is so strong that there is no mistaking who is doing what. By the end, I was thinking things like, “that is so Jess”. The ending was bit weak but given the starting premise it is hard to imagine an ending that wouldn’t be either preachy (“and that’s how we all came to love life again”) or trite. I’ll don’t want to spoil the read so I’ll leave the ending out. I think that Mr. Hornby let his characters find their way to the endings and that the ending matches each one.

This book, the story of four characters who all start out with suicide on their mind, was an interesting contrast to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go where three young students start out full of life. Read them both. Read them back-to-back. They make an interesting study in human nature.

This was a very funny book and a quick read. I’m certain we will see this as a movie or a miniseries (from the BBC) in the near future.

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About jimphelps

Chair, ITANA Enterprise Architect, Sr. IT Architect; UW-Madison

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