Thankfully I am currently reading an intense book about globalization and roads. My track record for books so far this year is pretty weak — one heavy non-fiction book about the Armenian genocide alongside a children’s book and two beach reads. The second was Nick Hornby’s 2007 novel “Slam.”
It’s another comic drama about a manchild facing up to adulthood (in this case, the manchild really is a child). I read the whole thing on the plane to New York, and would have read another 300 pages. It’s not heavy lifting, but the characters are wonderful and the simple story is compelling. About two thirds of the way through, he notes that nothing else of significance will happen in the book, and talks about storytelling in one of my favorite passages (ellipses in quotes always look like journalistic cheating, so you should know that I only edited out plot spoilers).
“So you know everything. There’s nothing more for me to say. … So now you’re probably thinking, If this is the end of the story, why doesn’t he shut up so that I can get on with something else. … It’s just that there comes a point where the facts don’t matter anymore, and even though you know everything, you know nothing, because you don’t know what anything felt like. That’s the thing about stories, isn’t it? You can tell someone the facts in ten seconds, if you want to, but the facts are nothing.”
By the way, look for this cover, not the blue one (which thankfully doesn’t even seem to be available on Amazon right now). Don’t even look at the blue one because it gives away part of the story that should have been a surprise (I’m a slightly bitter owner of a blue-covered copy).