Okay, I think we can all agree that Mr. Hornby is rather hopeless at talking about an art form with which he couldn’t keep pace, even as it toddled ahead in a rather leisurely fashion. But Hornby’s books have also always sucked (and this is no new news. Here’s a passage from a review of his second novel: “Hornby invokes the two great streams of middle-class sentimentality: the Afterschool Special and The New Yorker story.”) Moreover, they have always sucked in exactly the same way: wan, dudely homogeneity, almost fatally low on elan vital, hybrid vigor, cultural difference, self-recognition, immediacy and intensity, but high on stunted aggression, a blindered sense of superiority and convenient, flattering identification.
The books no less than the music writing race toward the endgame of the lost, melanc- and alco-holic boor, the ugly white guy whom culture has passed by, but who still manages to feel smug and lash out at everyone who fails to replicate his values
. The sentiment is awful; the prose is no better than in his music writing. I’d propose that if the Hornby-bashers recognized the stakes of fiction to be as high as those of music, they wouldn’t forgive the books quite so easily.