Several people suggested I read Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. And now I’m worried, because one of the main characters in this bittersweet and often hilarious novel is an obsessive-compulsive music blogger.
The story focuses on a couple living in Gooleness, a sad, rundown town on the coast of England. Duncan is the ringleader of an art-damaged internet community obsessed with the life and music of a long-lost American rock artist, Tucker Crowe. Annie is director of a museum few people visit and struggles to find meaning in her relationship with Duncan.
Annie has come to realize that Duncan’s fixation on every little detail involving Crowe’s life has gone far beyond anyone’s idea of normal. She admires the artist, but couldn't care less about various “shrines” to Crowology – including a restroom in Minneapolis – that the couple visit on a trip to the States.
Trouble arrives in the form of an “unplugged” version of Crowe’s masterwork, “Juliet,” which Duncan receives from a press agent eager to generate a little publicity for an eventual release. Duncan believes the acoustic version, “Juliet, Naked,” surpasses the well-documented majesty of the original. And he quickly posts a fawning review of “Naked,” mainly to bolster his status among his blog-followers as lord and master over all things Crowe.
Annie, on the other hand, smells bullshit… and her completely different take on “Naked” (which she posts on the same blog) alienates Duncan while winning over the reclusive Crowe, a determined dropout who is both amused and annoyed by his misguided fans.
Hornby uses sharp dialogue, filled with honesty and wit, to get us to really care about his characters — especially Annie and Crowe as they develop a long-distance relationship based on a shared desire to get on with their lives. And, as he did in High Fidelity, Hornby perfectly captures the whole subculture of music nerds and collectors of which I'm painfully familiar.