Four very different characters meet on New Year’s Eve on the top of a high building in North London intent on jumping. The narration moves from one character to another and back, so you have four different views of the world and the other characters. There is Martin, a former Breakfast TV presenter who disgraced himself having sexual relations with a 15 year old girl.
I’d had a life. full of kids and wives and jobs and all the usual stuff, and I’d somehow managed to mislay it.
Then there is Maureen, whose life stopped when she gave birth to a profoundly disabled son. Jess, a crazy 18 year old is about to jump when Martin stops her by sitting on her. Into this scene enters the pizza delivery boy, JJ, an American cut up by his band breaking up.
The four of them get to talking and decide to postpone their suicide. JJ’s friend, Ed, asks how long he will be hanging around with the suicide squad.
“Just until everyone’s OK.” he replies.
“Until everyone’s OK? That girl is deranged, The guy can never hold his head up in public again. And the old woman has a kid who can hardly fucking breathe. So when are they gonna be OK?”
There is a lot of humour and soul searching. Nick Hornby makes some interesting asides aimed at reading groups, groups of like-minded lesbians raving about Marquez. The set up is interesting: throw four different souls together and see what happens. None of the four characters are particularly likeable. There is a lot of fucking swearing, sorry, Maureen. Maureen is a churchgoer and the other three regularly apologise to her for their profanities, Ed describes her as old but she is only 51, is that old? (I make that remark as a 51 year old, myself).
I loved Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” which got deep into the mindset of an obsessional football fan, this is not in the same league, but it is an interesting read.
My rating 4 out of 5