Book Reviews Dungeons

From Ana’s Dungeon

This episode’s unearthings: About a Boy, the book and the movie.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is a great novelist who excels at writing about our moderns days; About the struggles to find oneself in this age and what means to be an adult. This is the basic plot of most of his books: High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, A Long Way Down. I read all of them and About a Boy is my favourite.

Will is a 36 years old man who has never worked, he lives off the royalties of his father’s one-hit Christmas song. He goes about life with well organised activities to fill his hours. He is also King of Cool, he is hip, he is modern, he knows what is in and what is not. He has not real connections to anyone and he is happy about it. He is completely self-centered and goes through a great deal to keep it that way.

Marcus is a 12 year old who is having a shit time at home and a shit time at school. He lives with his ex-hippie, single mom Fiona, who suffers from depression and he is in constant fear that something bad will happen. He is the opposite of Will, he is serious, he is completely uncool and his life at home makes him behave as an adult and that makes him stand out at school and be bullied by the other kids.

They meet when Will is having a date with a friend of Fiona, who chooses that day to commit suicide (unsuccessfully) catapulting Will into a situation that he is not comfortable with. All of a sudden he is confronted by real life. And when Marcus decides to adopt him as a friend and as potential saviour to his mother, he can not fight it, for some reason. It would have been so easy to make this into a Will and Fiona story but nothing happens between them. This is really a story about the two boys. About how Will, faced with his friend’s problems realises how his life is empty and devoid of any meaning or purpose and when he finally meets a woman with whom he could fall in love with, he feels utterly desperate and not worthy. He goes through emotional turmoil in order to finally grow up and open his life to other people to come in.

It is really a simple story, Will helps Marcus to become simply a kid and enjoy life and Marcus helps Will to become an adult who cares about other people. At first it may come out as a too funny, too light read about serious stuff. But this is the magic of Nick Hornby to me, that he manages to bring lightness to life’s greatest problems but without being superficial.

The movie is great too. One of the best books-to- movies adaptation, in my opinion. It has a great feel and some scenes that do not exist in the book are awesome additions. For instance Will and Marcus singing Killing me Softly at school. That was laugh out loud funny.
Hugh Grant is perfect as Will and the supporting cast do a great job too, specially the boy that plays Marcus. I highly recommend both.

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  • Thea
    February 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

    You know dude, I have neither seen the movie nor read the book. I had no idea it even was a book, I just saw ‘oh another hugh grant movie’.

    But this sounds interesting–I think I will give it a shot!

  • Ana
    February 8, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Oh Thea you MUST , either one of them. Do it, do it!

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