AFTER SPENDING SEVERAL weeks editing and designing our London music magazine, then playing catch-up with the world, I needed a respite. So I picked up a Nick Hornby novel and burned through it (no television, baseball or sleeping for one week).
Juliet Naked is about obsession, regret and loss, I think, though the book jacket says the novel ends with "optimistic conclusions."
One of the primary characters, Duncan, religiously studies the short-lived career of Tucker Crowe, a fictional American musician who mysteriously ends his career while on tour 20-some odd years ago. Duncan interprets lyrics and builds his narrative about the former musician, then posts everything online.
Duncan's ex-girlfriend Annie is a follower but not as stalker-ish. Through a series of events, she winds up connecting with Tucker Crowe online and then brings him to her English seaside town.
Duncan meets his hero, only to learn that he's been off the mark for years. All of Duncan's conjectures are wrong. Annie realizes that the 15 years she spent with Duncan were pretty much a waste of time. Tucker realizes that he squandered his career, talent and life, scattering fatherless children around the globe along the way.
It was an enjoyable, amusing tale although, as a 39-year old dude who still dreams of being in a ska/punk/funk/hip hop band, the notion of squandering your life and not living up to your talents hits a little close to home. Since I finished the book a week ago, I've been non-stop grading, attending meetings, teaching classes and generally running around in circles. I have no control over my life. It's pretty annoying.
What would I have done differently 15 years ago? Probably nothing. I will learn how to play guitar. I will launch that band, someday. And I will read more books.
OK. I have to get back to grading papers.