Friday, December 3, 2010

Not About the Capulet Girl or Nudity

I may not judge a book by its cover, but it certainly came catch my attention--not necessarily the artwork but the title. I'll admit that Nick Hornby's title Juiet, Naked caught my attention, but the blurbs I read about the book lured me in. This book by the author of Fever Pitch and High Fidelity follows three characters, so it took me awhile to realize that the actual protagonist is Annie, an almost-forty-year-old woman who works in a museum in a small seaside English town and--at least for part of the novel--has been living with Duncan, a college English teacher obsessed with Tucker Crowe, a former rocker who retired without explanation following a successful novel he called Juliet, after a well-publicized breakup with a real Julie.

Duncan's fascination with the now-reclusive Crowe is only fueled by the internet, where he interacts with other self-proclaimed "Crowologists," speculating about the elusive Crowe. Annie even goes on holiday with Duncan to America for a sort of Tucker Crowe pilgrimage.

When without notice the novel is re-released in its "naked" form, Duncan posts a rave review, and Annie decides to post her own response to what she considers the inferior production and is surprised to receive an email from Crowe.

The novel follows all three characters (and the audio version even uses three different readers) as Tucker eventually visits London after one of his children by one of his ex-wives has a health crisis. The novel is clever and funny, quirky and--yes--British. Don't expect to find it on a class syllabus. It's just an amusing read, but I even found myself sympathetic toward poor nerdy Duncan and several of the other minor characters.

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