A Long Way Down Audible – Albawater.co

In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they ve reached the end of the line Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen Four people who come together on New Year s Eve a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother Three are British, one is American They encounter one another on the roof of Topper s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives In four distinct and riveting first person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life What s your jumping off point MaureenWhy is it the biggest sin of all All your life you re told that you ll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all Oh, I can see that it s a kind of queue jumping But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut Or sometimes they say Excuse me, I was here first They don t say You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity That would be a bit strong MartinI d spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed And then you read the story about the poor bastard His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he d lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before Hello, Mr Coroner I m sorry, but there s no disturbed mental balance here, my friend I d say he got it just right JessI was at a party downstairs It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space out reggae At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it Happy New Year to you, too You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you d still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve And I wasn t the happiest person in London anyway Obviously JJNew Year s Eve was a night for sentimental losers It was my own stupid fault Of course there d be a low rent crowd up there I should have picked a classier date like March , when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or NovemberNick Drake If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like minded souls, rather than hopeless f ck ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant


10 thoughts on “A Long Way Down

  1. Jayson Jayson says:

    A 80% Very Good NotesDespite its grim premise, it s frequently laugh out loud Though I m not a fan of the shifting first person perspective.


  2. Malbadeen Malbadeen says:

    jump already and take the book with you.


  3. Raych Raych says:

    Oh popular authors, I m always so nervous about you I mean, on the one hand I always figure that if so many people like you, there must be something good about you But then, so many people like harlequin romances, and Dane Cook, and Big Brother People are idiots Even when they aren t, they can t always be trusted My friend Amy actually loved Confessions of a Slacker Wife, and my husband really liked The Innocent Man, a.k.a Was John Grisham Always This Bad And I Just Didn t Notice , and my Oh popular authors, I m always so nervous about you I mean, on the one hand I always figure that if so many people like you, there must be something good about you But then, so many people like harlequin romances, and Dane Cook, and Big Brother People are idiots Even when they aren t, they can t always be trusted My friend Amy actually loved Confessions of a Slacker Wife, and my husband really liked The Innocent Man, a.k.a Was John Grisham Always This Bad And I Just Didn t Notice , and my friend Karen lists as her top three books ever Eli Wiesel s Night awesome , The Kite Runner also awesome , and friggin Million Little Pieces total crap These are bright, funny people I voluntarily hang out with them But they actually enjoy books that are total tripe, so the fact that people on the whole enjoy Nick Hornby s books means nothing.I enjoyed the hell out of Long Way Down Seriously, I did not expect to love it this much And then a friend asked me what I was reading, and all I had to say was This book about four people who, separately, decide to throw themselves off a tall building on New Years Eve, but then they all get up there and, hey, there s three other people up here Well, this is awkward and now she s going to read it, because how hilarious is that What a ridiculous and somehow totally believable premise Ok, so it s New Years Eve, and Martin because he is an alcoholic ex morning show host who has been in all the papers lately for sleeping with a fifteen year old who, to his credit, told him she was sixteen, which isn t exactly illegal, but whose wife left him for it anyways, and took their two kids , Maureen because her son Matty is a vegetable, always has been and always will be, and she hasn t done anything worth mentioning in the last twenty years besides care for him and become socially awkward , JJ because his band broke up and his girlfriend left him, although the reason he initially gives is that he has CCR, a totally fictional disease and also a wicked 60 s rock band and Jess because she has family and relationship problems, but mostly just because she is young and nuts and it seemed like a good idea at the time have all lugged themselves to the top of Toppers House with the intention of doing themselves in But then, how do you toss yourself off a building when there s other people hanging around No one wants to be the first, and for sure no one wants to be the last So they get to chatting and eventually decide to go solve Jess s most immediate problem, which has something to do with a boy and an explanation.That solved, they begin finding other things to do, other things to tether them to the earth and keep them from jumping Oh sure, they still talk about it, and even arrange to meet back on Toppers on Valentine s Day so they can finally give themselves the old heave ho But with one thing and another, it s really hard to find time to kill yourself, you know At one point, Maureen she of the vegetable son says, You d think this would be the story of four people who met because they were unhappy, and wanted to help each other But it hadn t beenit had been the story of four people who met because they were unhappy and then swore at each other And it never changes Martin begins the book by sitting on Jess s head to prevent her from jumping, which is ostensibly kind but kind of a rough way to go about things and the last page finds her listing all the ways that he s failed at life.And yet, even though the characters are perverted Martin , coarse Jess , lazy JJ , and really insurmountably lame Maureen , and none of them saysthan two kind words to each other the entire 333 pages, they re terribly endearing It s their complete reluctance to be together combined with their absolute need for each other that sets the stage for all of the hilarious moments of which there are many and all of the poignant ones of which there are mercifully few Nothing really is solved, and no one lives happily ever after, but I closed the book with such a sense of sweet satisfaction I never do this, because I think it s cheating, but I m going to steal a line from the New York Times Book Review Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once Hear hear review originally posted on www.booksidoneread.blogspot.com


  4. Jr Bacdayan Jr Bacdayan says:

    I ve been down, I don t wanna say depressed I don t wanna use the term lightly There are lots of people with real problems, people diagnosed with clinical depression but I m not one of those I m just a university student with an unpredictable proclivity for melancholia Sure, I m a little bit melodramatic at times But, hey Who isn t And when you feel a bit down in the dumps sometimes you need something relatable and so I gave this a go.Do you know that feeling when you re stuck in a long b I ve been down, I don t wanna say depressed I don t wanna use the term lightly There are lots of people with real problems, people diagnosed with clinical depression but I m not one of those I m just a university student with an unpredictable proclivity for melancholia Sure, I m a little bit melodramatic at times But, hey Who isn t And when you feel a bit down in the dumps sometimes you need something relatable and so I gave this a go.Do you know that feeling when you re stuck in a long bus ride with friends or you stay over at a close friend s house and you talk about meaningful things all night That s the feel I kind of got from this book The kind of feeling that shows you even smack talk can give warmth and fuck yous are really I care for yous The story is told between four narrators at a conversational level that really sets the mood of the novel These four people find themselves atop the same tower at New Years Eve planning to commit suicide Unsurprisingly, they postpone, get to talking and somehow their differences in character causes their interactions to be a bit comical It s really amazing to see how Nick Hornby is able to balance the tightrope between comical and relatable Obviously there s something gooey that pulls you in but there s also enough humor to make you stay.What I really appreciated about A Long Way Down is its heartfelt tone It could have easily been overtly dramatic and begging but it refused to look at suicide that way It was playful without being offensive, and had just the right amount of crankiness for something with such a sensitive topic It also doesn t hurt that most of the characters are British, cause those people have a lot of attitude A bizarre ball of humanity, fun, and wisdom this is This book dealt with the issues of depression and suicide in a really fascinating manner It presented four different characters, with four different circumstances I guess it wants to say that each person has their own story, they have their own problems, and consequently their own journeys But what this book emphasized is togetherness and company when battling these problems These four people didn t have anyone they can turn to, and so by some weird act of fate, they found each other Sometimes all you need is someone to be with, not even to talk to, but just knowing that someone is there for you, that can be a big relief The four of them drew strength from each other Maybe that s all there is to a meaningful life good company You know that feeling when you ve been traveling a few hours with your friends and you ve had too much fun talking about stuff you don t want the ride to end Maybe life s like that Maybe finding the right people to enjoy the ride with will make you stay Maybe that s enough of a reason to take the long way down


  5. Josh Feinzimer Josh Feinzimer says:

    I didn t get into Hornby for the same reason as everyone else, they like Jon Cusak in High Fidelity A Long Way Down was recommended to me by a friend and I needed a light read for the summer so I picked it up.I have never actually laughed out loud while reading a book until I read this one Running With Scissors was the closest I came, but Augusten Burroughs was such an unrealistic and absurd character, which is ironic because he was based on a real person , that it seemed too ridiculous to I didn t get into Hornby for the same reason as everyone else, they like Jon Cusak in High Fidelity A Long Way Down was recommended to me by a friend and I needed a light read for the summer so I picked it up.I have never actually laughed out loud while reading a book until I read this one Running With Scissors was the closest I came, but Augusten Burroughs was such an unrealistic and absurd character, which is ironic because he was based on a real person , that it seemed too ridiculous to find laugh out loud funny.Hornby s characters were genuine and honest In my third year of college, after changing my major for the third time, I studied Psychology I received arealistic depiction of depression from this story than I found in any of my textbooks that entire semester.If you ve ever had a bad day, a bad week or even a bad year, you can surely identify with the characters in this book I identified with the American rockstar because what young person growing up in this country doesn t aspire to be famous For me, it was professional sports, but the thought process was identical strike it rich, score with hot groupies and rub it in everyone s face who never believed in youI also enjoyed this book because the ending is not wrapped with a nice little bow, as any book about suicide should steer clear of The TV personality learns at the end that they each of the main characters had made mistakes that they couldn t ever have back But the key to going on with your life is finding a little something in each day that makes you want to experience the next


  6. Clay Clay says:

    This book, as many others, is not for everyone I can completely understand that many people find those characters annoying and the whole story pointless Nevertheless I am of the opinion that this book can give you hope Of course this seems to be a silly thing to say considering the topic and all those miserable characters But let me explain Apparently Johnny Depp called the characters some of the most outstanding he s ever had the pleasure of reading And I can agree They re all really fuc This book, as many others, is not for everyone I can completely understand that many people find those characters annoying and the whole story pointless Nevertheless I am of the opinion that this book can give you hope Of course this seems to be a silly thing to say considering the topic and all those miserable characters But let me explain Apparently Johnny Depp called the characters some of the most outstanding he s ever had the pleasure of reading And I can agree They re all really fucked up, but also lovable Sometimes I find myself grabbing the book just to read a page or another to have one of them accompany me Even though they re really, like REALLY, fucked up they are also absolutely hilarious Especially Martin He s so bitter but extremely funny And I think that the most important thing about this book, apart from the great writing, is that you learn to look at situations with muchhumour You could have easily written a real downer with the same characters But you look at things in a different way It s also remarkable that in fact hardly anything happens that makes their life better, but they have each other and you have them too in a certain way


  7. Chelsea slytherink Chelsea slytherink says:

    warning minor spoilers suicide mentions statutory rape edit You know what, this book doesn t deserve my mercy I really hated it and it still makes me angry whenever I think about it I m going to lower my rating to 1 star.I had to read this book for college, and when I read the synopsis, I thought it seemed quite good I liked the idea, but the characters completely ruined this for me and not much happened as well.These characters are VERY PROBLEMATIC Let s have a look at some quotes th warning minor spoilers suicide mentions statutory rape edit You know what, this book doesn t deserve my mercy I really hated it and it still makes me angry whenever I think about it I m going to lower my rating to 1 star.I had to read this book for college, and when I read the synopsis, I thought it seemed quite good I liked the idea, but the characters completely ruined this for me and not much happened as well.These characters are VERY PROBLEMATIC Let s have a look at some quotes that pissed me off JJ Suicide wasn t invented for people like this It was invented for people like Virginia Woolf and Nick Drake And me Suicide was supposed to be cool I hope I don t even need to explain what s wrong with this Maureen My own feeling about JJ, without knowing anything about him, was that he might have been a gay person, because he had long hair and spoke American A lot of Americans are gay people, aren t they I know they didn t invent gayness, because they say that was the Greeks But they helped bring it back into fashion Being gay was a bit like the Olympics it disappeared in ancient times, and then they brought it back in the twentieth century Anyway, I didn t know anything about gays, so I just presumed they were all unhappy and wanted to kill themselves Are you kidding me First of all, no one INVENTED being gay Second of all, being gay was never out of fashion , it was and in some places still is taboo, so people didn t talk about it And just because he is American and, according to you, looks gay, doesn t mean he is AND NOT ALL LGBTGA PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY Oh my God, I cannot believe how ignorant Maureen is, I can t believe she has been on Earth her whole life, not Mars or something JJ Oh, is that right And this from the girl who can t deal with being dumped So JJ makes up an illness and says he is dying, because he is ashamed of the real reason why he wants to kill himself He wants to commit suicide because his band broke up and his girlfriend dumped him Jess is also depressed because her boyfriend left her SO JJ IS JUDGING HER FOR HER REASON, WHILE IT S THE SAME AS HIS Hypocrite Maureen I only ever had intercourse with one man, and I only had intercourse with that one man once, and the one time in my entire life I had intercourse produced Matty What are the chances, eh The book I ve read before this HAS THE EXACT SAME TROPE, so no, it s pretty common I guess Why are female characters who are good , sexually inexperienced Destroy the idea that women can t be sexual in order to be good and likeable Martin A few years ago, Cindy joined one of those dreadful reading groups, where unhappy, repressed middle class lesbians talk for five minutes about some novel they don t understand, and then spend the rest of the evening moaning about how dreadful men are Girls, enlighten me, are we all repressed middle class lesbians who moan about how dreadful men are No, I don t thinks so MARTIN Stop being so sexist He judges everyone else based on a stereotype that is so incorrect.JJ but when you get music rage, you re carrying out the will of God, and God wants these people dead JJ seriously is a hipster avant la lettre Just because you listen to rock music, doesn t mean you are better than other people Martin I was recognized once or twice, and ended up wearing JJ s baseball cap pulled down over my eyes, which depressed me I am not a baseball cap sort of a chap, and I abhor people who wear any sort of headgear during dinner This book deals with depression and suicide, and you choose to use depression in this context Seriously Oh yes Martin, you should totally commit suicide because you have to wear a baseball cap omg.Martin I was not a criminal, not really YES YOU ARE You had sex with a fifteen year old girl while you are over forty years old You are a pedophile And I don t care that it would have been legal if she was a 100 days older or that he didn t know, it s DISGUSTING And I was so disappointed in class that a lot of people don t think this way Some thought Martin didn t do anything wrong because the girl wanted to have sex and he didn t know her age FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRLS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED MORE RESPONSIBLE THAN MIDDLE AGED MEN Martin should have known better, stop victim blaming Martin I have come to the conclusion that no one who earnsthan, say, seventy five thousand pounds a year should never be sent to jail, because the punishment will always besevere than the crime You should just have to see a therapist, or give some money to charity, or something How self absorbed can someone be Do you really think it s a punishment for someone who has tons of money to give some of it to charity You shouldn t commit a crime if you can t handle the consequences, regardless the amount of money you have Martin They d done nothing at all, and it was not difficult to imagine that they would continue to do nothing at all, and they made me look and feel like a world leader who runs a multinational company in the evenings and a scout troop at weekends This guy had a breakfast TV show A BREAKFAST TV SHOW Get off your high horse man Martin I was imprisoned a due to entrapment, and b because society s attitudes to teenage sexuality are outmoded It s not about teenagers having sex, you idiot It s about a middle aged man practically raping a fifteen year old Martin one of my daughters and I m sorry to say that I don t know which one This guy is talking shit about his ex wife all the time because she doesn t want him to see their daughters, but seriously, HE DOESN T DESERVE TO SEE THEM, HE CAN T EVEN TELL THEM APART Okay, I know, this review is very ranty, BUT I HAVE SO MUCH ISSUES WITH IT This book made me want to kill someone, particularly, Martin This is fiction, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of privileged white men who think just like him, and that makes me sick I only liked Jess But her chapters were torture, they were written like this I m like and then he was like and then I was like It s not enjoyable to read that It s also stereotypical of the writer to assume that all teenagers talk like that.She s the only reason I didn t give this one star though In other words Martin, were not tolerant of my culture, which isof a drinking and drug taking and shagging sort of a culture than his culture I like to think that I m respectful of his I don t tell him that he should get pissed up and fucked up on drugs and pick upgirls So he should berespectful of mine He wouldn t tell me to eat pork if I was Jewish, so why should he tell me not to do the other stuff


  8. Mark Mark says:

    Boy, is there anyone who has offered upstinkers than Nick flippin Hornby And, was he so great to begin with Even his better, earlier works were marginally good Nothing life changing Which is kinda the point of why he s so awful he is intentionally trying to be life changing in every book, essay, magazine column or whatever He thinks he can somehow find the right prose combination for some idea or mindset to click and for it to change one s life much like these things do to chara Boy, is there anyone who has offered upstinkers than Nick flippin Hornby And, was he so great to begin with Even his better, earlier works were marginally good Nothing life changing Which is kinda the point of why he s so awful he is intentionally trying to be life changing in every book, essay, magazine column or whatever He thinks he can somehow find the right prose combination for some idea or mindset to click and for it to change one s life much like these things do to characters in his books The epiphany is Hornby s White Whale And he didn t catch him in A Long Way Down The problems with A Long Way Down 1 There isn t one likable character It revolves around for seemingly different people all wanting to throw themselves from a building on New Years Eve And you kinda wish they would ve They don t 2 Unfocused My first impressions of the book, before actually reading it, I thought it took place entirely on the roof of the building Instead, it chronicles the knucklehead goings on of these nitwits as they slowly realize that there are a billion reasons why they should live, and only like one or two why they shouldn t 3 Hornby is about as pretentious as they come This isn t the first time he s taken on suicide, but to build a whole book around it and never really answer any questions, come to any conclusions Sure, the characters don t kill themselves, but we really never find out why One character feigns a deadly disease Why not give him a real disease Give him something to die for It was pretty clear that none of the characters were never actually going to kill themselves And the lack of that possibility dulls any teeth the book had, or could have had


  9. Christopher Christopher says:

    This book almost deserved one star The only thing that saved it from being a complete and utter waste of my time was that Nick Horny writes the occasional very witty passage, and there were two count them, two observations that I found actually interesting So that totals about five pages that I actually enjoyed.The rest was quintessential fluffy drivel, which does have its place, but not when the book is discussing suicide, the meaning of life or the lack thereof , and other such Profound T This book almost deserved one star The only thing that saved it from being a complete and utter waste of my time was that Nick Horny writes the occasional very witty passage, and there were two count them, two observations that I found actually interesting So that totals about five pages that I actually enjoyed.The rest was quintessential fluffy drivel, which does have its place, but not when the book is discussing suicide, the meaning of life or the lack thereof , and other such Profound Topics The multiple point of view narrations could have added a very interesting aspect to exploring suicide and its aftermath, except for the fact that they pretty much all had the same point of view and the same voice Hornby s Every time any character made a witty joke or a clever observation, it could have just of easily come from the other characters, and you got the distinct impression that Hornby had been having a pint with his mates, made some witty comment about T.V announcers or quiz shows, and thought, Nick old bloke, write that one down Your going to want to put that in your next book It was fine that the narrator in High Fidelity was a Hornby stand in, but when the 16 year old punk rich girl, the middle aged T.V host, the 50 year old woman with a disabled son, and the fallen rock star are ALL Hornby stand ins it gets a bit much.Okay, some of this might be considered Spoilers so beware I m not calling them spoilers, cause there s nothing to spoil, but there you are To start, the premise is both ridiculous yet tediously predictable four people meet on a roof to kill them selves Who wants to bet they DON T jump Who wants to bet the improbably become entangled in each other s lives Who wants to bet they end up improbably helping one another learn Important Truths about Themselves and Life Who wants to bet that, when they meet up in 90 days on the roof to jump, none of them kill themselves, because they now all want to live Who wants to bet that they all get sort of Warm, Fuzzy, Life Affirming Endings, even if one or two are Extremely Deep in that they learn No Meaning is The Meaning Not that I want to spoil anything, but anyone taking those bets is very likely to win The ending was truly worse than I had expected It was good for a few chuckles, but then so are ZIggy and Garfield, yet I avoid them on a daily basis It might have only taken me a week of twice daily 20 minute bus rides to finish this, but it was still a waste of time I could have been reading vampire romance manga


  10. Trish Trish says:

    I m a Nick Hornby fan And it sthan just enjoying his writing I have a warm and fuzzy affection for him So even when one of his books fails to utterly delight and transport me How to Be Good, for example , I m still on his side Michiko Kakutani clearly has no such affection for Hornby Her review of A Long Way Down is savage Her chief complaint is that the book contrives to arrive at an implausibly sappy conclusion Which is odd, because I think the book admirably avoids easy answers I m a Nick Hornby fan And it sthan just enjoying his writing I have a warm and fuzzy affection for him So even when one of his books fails to utterly delight and transport me How to Be Good, for example , I m still on his side Michiko Kakutani clearly has no such affection for Hornby Her review of A Long Way Down is savage Her chief complaint is that the book contrives to arrive at an implausibly sappy conclusion Which is odd, because I think the book admirably avoids easy answers or cloying sentimentality True, it begins with a colossal coincidence Four people climb to the top of the same building with the thought of a suicidal plummet Of course, once Maureen taps Martin on the shoulder, and once they see teen age Jess taking a run for the parapet, and once JJ arrives with pizza, they can t really jump to their deaths, can they Instead they munch a few slices and decide to humor Jess by helping her track down her ex boyfriend, Chas, who she claims not to have been stalking, unless endless phone calls and unexpected visits to his workplace constitute stalking I didn t find it difficult to roll with the premise, in part because the novel is told in rotating first person, first Martin, then Maureen, then Jess, then JJ As you step into each person s shoes, it s not too difficult to understand why they might mull ending it all, and why a random collision with a stranger might give each one pause Kakutani accuses Hornby of coralling the characters into a touchy feely support group, but that s exactly what they aren t None of them have much in common beyond their suicidal thoughts, and even those are different shades of blue Jess is just mad, all impulse and ignorance and id Martin has royally fucked up, an ill fated fling with a coke snorting 15 year old landing him in the clink and out of his family and job Maureen is sadled with a disabled son and a life devoid of life And JJ may claim to be dying of CCR, but his real problem is an addiction to rock n roll and his inability to score a fix now that his band has dissolved There aren t easy answers Jess s missing sister isn t going to reappear Jess won t be hit with a sudden wave of sanity Maureen s son isn t going to recover or die Martin can t undo the damage he s done, or even quickly become the type of person who won t cock up his life so badly And JJ isn t about to discover a new purpose in life, like caring for Maureen s vegetable son or teaching underprivileged kids to play the guitar There s no redemptive power of love on display And the four members of the ad hoc support group never particularly like one another So Michiko and I will just have to be at opposite ends of the spectrum on this one How do people, like, not curse How is it possible There are these gaps in speech where you just have to put a fuck I ll tell you who the most admirable people in the world are newscasters If that was me, I d be like, And the motherfuckers flew the fucking plane right into the Twin Towers How could you not, if you re a human being Maybe they re not so admirable Maybe they re robot zombies.