(The title of the book/film, by the way, comes from an Elvis Costello song. At least, there is an Elvis Costello song called "High Fidelity", and I'd be really surprised if the title does not originate from that great song. You can listen to it:
I just read "The Corrections," and I will NOT recommend that. Now I am reading "High Fidelity," which is ruined because I've seen the movie a BILLION times. I also just read "What Is the What." Have you read that? I thought it was phenomenal, and now I am sponsoring a Sudanese student. That is not an exaggeration.
Well, lookie lookie. Somebody’s been reading books from dn’s collection. What is the What and High Fidelity. I have a lot to say about High Fidelity, if you want (but not much to add to What is the What. That book doesn’t really provoke much discussion except for “Yikes” and “Whoa”). I’d also seen the movie several times first, but cherished the book nonetheless. I read it in the midst of my blue period, which followed my worst breakup, and coincided with a lonely trip to Ann Arbor. Good stuff. Anyway, let’s book club it up when you’re done.
I guess I’ll go elsewhere for a book recommendation. Great, now Floyd is just going to tell me to read something about Russia.
50 pages left. I look forward to this discussion.
Also, I'm not really a "Men Are From Mars"-type person, but how unfortunate is it that guys get cool break-up, what-does-it-all-mean stories like "High Fidelity," and girls have rubbish like "Eat, Pray, Love"? The quality gap there is as big as the difference between, well, fiction and non-fiction, you could say.
Good point. Maybe it’s the pursuer vs. the pursued? They’re bound to reflect on things differently? What about Stella getting her groove back? Was that different than “Eat, Pray, Love”?
I don't know anything about Stella or her groove. And I don't know too much yet about "Eat, Pray, Love." I'm embarrassed to say I know anything about it all. It was purchased in a moment of weakness, OK? Anyhow, it is fundamentally very different from "High Fidelity," and I appreciate Rob Fleming's musings much more than Elizabeth Gilbert's.
Can you remind me if there is much in High Fidelity that is not in the film? I thought there was, but now I worry I’m confusing it with About a Boy, which was super different than the movie.
There's not a ton different in "High Fidelity." In the book, his relationship with Marie LaSalle is a little more involved, and his parents are bigger characters. He celebrates a birthday. There are actually five girls on his Top 5 Break-Up list, whereas in the movie, he kicks off the last one for Laura. And he doesn't start a record label; he goes back to DJing in the end... unless there's more to come in the last 10 pages.
For starters, I allege that it is a male-oriented fairy tale of a perfect breakup. Rob:
Gets to wallow in pity and surround himself with music
Gets proof that his exes are not that great, and he’s not missing out on them
Gets to bed a musician
Does not have to feel guilty about bedding the musician, because Laura is also with someone
Gets Laura back
Becomes a somewhat well-adjusted, comfortable adult
I'll agree. He doesn't have to feel guilty about anything: the post-breakup musician, the affair, the abortion, the debt. It's all forgotten, and he doesn't have to account for any of it.
And maybe you read it differently than I did, but it seems to be a pretty bleak picture of love. I feel like Rob thinks "Well, this relationship will never be new or even exciting again, but it's something. I'm too lazy/unlikely to find anything better, so this'll do." And Laura is the same. She knows the relationship is no good, but she doesn't want to look for someone who'd be a better match. Everyone is settling. Am I wrong?
I don’t think it’s bleak. I can only go on the film version, since I only read the book once, but I didn’t see it as settling. Yes, they are tired of looking for other, “better” people, but they’ve also realized that a more suitable match probably does not exist.
I don’t know the female perspective on this, but as a male, I can say without hesitation that the looking is exhausting. And I don’t mean dating – I mean looking. Looking to see how attractive (or not) a jogger on the sidewalk is as you drive by, looking at the receptionists in the ophthalmologist’s office, looking around on the bus or in the airport terminal. (It was only in the past few years when I trained myself to stop looking in some of those situations - really, what would you do if the jogger was attractive? Stop the car?) Rob is tired of looking. Yes, Laura isn’t new or exciting anymore, but every relationship loses that initial thrill. He’s realized that a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a myth, and he knows if he just focuses on Laura they will be happy.
Yeah, I suppose. Something about it still strikes me as sad, though.
I agree that the looking can be exhausting. And I understand that the thrill of a new person can fade and that it's sad to run out of "firsts." I appreciate those sentiments. But I guess, in a perfect world, Rob -- being with Laura -- shouldn't be tired of looking; he shouldn't want to look anymore.
Maybe that's too idealistic. I mean, this is obviously more a story about maturing and realizing what "real-life" love/commitment is than it is a story about love. And the fact that I think it's kind of bleak probably points to some disappointments in my future. But, I get it. I do. The more I write and think about this, the more I get it. It's just a bummer.
I always liked the "Do I listen to pop music because I'm miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?" [See the 0:44 mark in the clip below.] debate. What a masochistic thing to do to yourself. Post-breakup, I much prefer episodes of "30 Rock" to sentimental pop records. But I guess Rob is a much cooler person than I.
Take it from someone who has made CD mixes titled “Breakup: Pessimistic” and “Breakup: Optimistic” – you do NOT want to indulge more than one or two listens to the pessimistic playlist. I’m convinced that error extended my blue period for several months.
Obviously he shouldn’t WANT to look anymore, but he’s a man, man! It’s in his biology; or, if you want to argue the sow-your-oats urges, you have to concede that he’s conditioned himself to seek and impress and conquer women for the last 10 or 15 years (I don’t remember Rob’s age). The revelation is that the cute tattooed girls that wander into his record shoppe aren’t better options, they’re just other options.
This book/story speaks to you more than it does to me. That's what I've learned here. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. (Maybe I just enjoy this existential crisis more when I'm watching John Cusack endure it.)
And though I question Rob's methods, it's still a better way to deal with a breakup than eating Ben & Jerry's and watching "Love, Actually."