Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity is a hilarious trip through the mind of a thirty-something single male who cannot decide what he wants to do with his life. Readers observe the day-to-day monotony of the narrator, Rob Fleming, as he second-guesses every decision he has ever made. Rob owns a record store called Championship Vinyl in which he sells second-hand records. He is a fanatic when it comes to music. He loves classic pop, but he spends much of his day criticizing his customers, most of whom know nothing of the music that Rob sells. Joining Rob in the sarcastic remarks that are made behind his customers’ backs are Dick and Barry, Rob’s two associates and music-loving buddies.
Rob is also helplessly in love with Laura, though he will not admit it. As the story opens, Laura has left him for Ian, a man who used to live in the upstairs apartment. The breakup was not all Laura’s fault. Rob had told her he might be interested in another woman; then he went out and had an affair. So she left him for Ian, who turns out to be a sorry substitute.
Rob has a huge problem with commitment, not just with Laura, but also with everything about his life. He was at the top of his game when he was a disc jocky. He has a knack with music, knowing what will keep a group dancing and engaged. But he does not do that anymore. He does not do much of anything except reminisce about his past, trying to figure out where he went wrong. And when he is not reminiscing, he is looking for a woman to go to bed with. That always restores his confidence, at least for a few minutes.
In the end, after Laura’s father dies, Laura and Rob get back together. But it remains a struggle. Laura tells Rob that she sees his potential. However, Rob appears blind to his own good qualities. He is ridiculously lacking in confidence. Even after he has Laura back in his arms, he is easily enticed by another woman. Will he ever learn?