Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked (Book Review) by jgn on Sunday, November 29, 2009 in Reading, Listening, and Reviews

Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked (2009) $25.99. [Amazon]

Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked is about a cult musician, his fans, and his legacy. Tucker Crowe recorded what fanboys seem to think is the greatest break-up album of all time, "Juliet." Then Crowe dropped out of the music business. One of his biggest fans is a musical trainspotter in a sleepy seaside town in England. When the demos of Crowe's great album are released as "Juliet, Naked," the fan writes a celebratory review, motivated largely by the fact that he is one of the first to hear the CD. Then his girlfriend reviews it -- and pans it -- and, miraculously, the elusive Crowe begins to re-emerge from his obscurity.

All of the musical "notes" in this book are pretty much perfect, from the fake Wikipedia entries to the self-regard of the fanboy. Meanwhile, the musical Crowe is immediately recognizable as something like an early Alex Chilton; after his "retirement" from music, Hornby takes the character a little further into obscurity than most cult figures go.

Where the book is pretty weak is around the relationships. Hornby can lay down a nice streak of almost weepy sentimentality. The book practically ends in a group hug. I liked the book, but, really, the music bits are the best bits. Even a brief appearance by a couple of the last Northern Soul fanatics has more life than some of the romance material.

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