16597Re: [thewire] Nick Hornby
- Mar 1, 2003Being a long time Wire reader I wonder with anticipation what Rob's piece is all about. I have yet to get my latest issue but now I can't wait for it so I can actually read Rob's point of view. Reason being I've worked in record stores most of my life. Mostly stores like "Championship Vinyl" the store that as most folks know was the shop Rob, the main character, owned in "High Fidelity". Before that book came out I read several essays Nick wrote for British Esquire. One piece titled "Collecting Records is nothing to do with our sense of ourselves, but to do with the ageing process" (or at least this was a quote from the piece) particularly grabbed my attention since at the time I was years into a very deep obsession with Factory records. This essay pretty much hit home with me and the collector mentality. When I heard he was writing a story that revolves around a record store I was excited. Most of the stuff from that original essay went into the book in one way or another. It became my duty to hunt down copies of the book, only available in Britain at the time, to give to friends. They immediately saw me in the book as I saw some of the obsessed folks that came into our shop looking for those "original Zappa albums and not the re-issues". Collectors from all over the world I still see to this day in the small shop I manage now.
Reading that his new book "Songbook (The US title with a bonus 11 track CD) was only available through mail-order I immediate ordered up a few to give to friends as holiday gifts. I found it an enjoyable read and there was allot that reminded me of the first time I read his essay on collecting records. Lots of stuff I was totally on board with. But then there were a few things I thought what the hell are you on? To me though that's what it's about anyway. You're always going disagree with certain things and agree with some as well as hopefully learn something new in the process. Kind of like when I read the Wire some stuff I feel like someone's reading my mind. Other times I think what the hell are they on. But I'm always learning something and feel like I'm part of that special club. Much like the record collector who thinks he's found the ideal shop nobody knows about. They always know they'll find something they didn't have before.
Since I haven't read Rob's editorial yet I will not comment since I made that mistake, unintentionally of course, before and heard from Rob. I will only state my opinion that Nick's book is basically his recollection of songs that he loves or loved IE:Suicide. Something I would love to read from most of the Wire writers. Seems like a good idea Rob how about essays by some of the writers about their favorite tracks? I found it more interesting as a reflection on what was in Nick's head when he wrote some of the words I so highly endorsed to all my friends. Sure there is some stuff I just think ???? The Bible? I mean who likes the Bible? Well he does because his connection with someone in the band. That doesn't mean I'm going to run out and pick up their albums, though it would be tough since they're all out of print in the US anyway. Though I may say to myself some time let me see what Nick Hornbys on about with these Bible folks. But I should talk as I'm typing I'm listening to It's Immaterial's "Life's Hard and Then You Die" album I just found in a shop for $1.00. It was either pop songs that would bring me back to the late 80's or listen to the Elaine Radigue "Adnos" box I bought because of the review in the Wire. I chose the pop songs for Saturday night. I'll do my Table of the Elements day tomorrow and add my Tony Conrad "Early Minimalism" box set.
Lastly I will say that the only thing that sticks out in my head is how happy I was when I first saw the film High Fidelity. In one of the first scenes in the record store we see the magazine rack next to the cash register and displayed prominently on the top row was the Wire. I felt I was part of such an exclusive club the writer who so captured my record store life had a copy of my musical bible in his fictional record store. And yes I know there are such things as "Set Decorators" but I believe if it's good enough for Rob Gordon's record store and myself then I was right about Nick Hornby all along.
I wonder how the Wire felt about appearing in a Hollywood film? Any sales spike from the wanna be hipsters? Should we say sell out? I think not we'll save that for the Godspeed folks who even though they rail against the corporate world Danny Boyle got them to let him use a track in his 20th Century Fox film 28 Days Later. Now what war mongers does that align them with. Check your Yanqui albums boys and girls that would be part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. All I know is I don't care and I'll keep on being obsessed with the Constellation world and all thing Godspeed. I don't believe in the sell out it's the quality and getting the message/music out there.
----- Original Message -----
From: Keith Brown
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2003 12:52 PM
Subject: [thewire] Nick Hornby
I wonder how people on this list felt about Rob Young's acidic polemic
against the writer Nick Hornby in this month's editorial of The Wire.
The reason for the attack was that Nick had published a book about 31
records that he likes or used to like and attempted to say why he liked
them or stopped liking them, and Rob disagreed with some of the things
Nick has said. I believe Nick Hornby to be a writer who has no interest
in the history of English literature, or at least that he has no
interest in finding his place in it, or addressing the problems of
literature, or more generally of dealing with the human condition. That
is his choice as a writer, he writes the sort of commercially oriented,
middle of the road books that sell well and get made into films starring
Hugh Grant. There isn't anything wrong with that IMHO, its not Joyce or
Proust but it doesn't intend to be.
I feel Rob's attack, while initially exhilarating for me, was
unwarranted and immature. The Wire is a precious cultural artefact, we
would all be the poorer if it ceased to exist or was unable to pursue
its current agenda. But Nick is simply making a case for the sort of
music he likes, which would be typical both for him and for his readers.
Of course a typical reader of Nick's work is unlikely to be the sort of
person that reads The Wire, but to refer to them as 'sadsacks' sounds
like the work of a man who never got what he wanted out of life, and
feels an enormous amount of aggression as a result. Was it Rob's
intention to polarise culture in terms of those who are for 'The Wire'
and those who are not, and thereby to infer that everyone who expresses
an opinion that might be contrary to that of 'The Wire' is somehow bent
on our destruction? The idea that Nick has somehow ceased to exist as a
human being because he no longer wishes to hear music made by a group
called 'Suicide' strikes me as the most indefensible form of solipsism.
His final criticism, which is slightly more measured, that list building
is a 'quest for perfection' may be untrue. Thankfully he manages to pull
himself towards the end to stick up for a true 'Wire' man, David Toop,
but there is still time for one last dig at Nick.
What would a new reader of 'The Wire' think of us on reading Rob's
editorial? I would imagine most people who read a magazine read the
editorial, and chances are they would have heard of Nick Hornby and
Nelly Furtado, but not of David Toop. That's a known verses an unknown
folks, and I don't think they will be buying our beloved mag anymore.
Alternative music is not a religion, it is a valid and human choice, but
that is all. At the end of the day we are all just people trying to make
our way in life. Live and let live Rob.
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