The setting for Hornby’s novel High Fidelity is London. The time is somewhere in the 1990s. Understanding that the narrator is thirty-five-years old also helps set the stage. Rob Fleming is inching away from his prime. However, he clings to the music of the 1970s and early 1980s, the soundtrack of his youth.
Much of the story takes place inside Rob’s second-hand record shop the Championship Vinyl. It is in his store that Rob feels most comfortable, though it is unclear if Rob ever feels really relaxed. Rob spends most of his time in the back storeroom of the shop and has little interest in customers. His buddies Barry and Dick deal with the few customers that do come in.
Rob also has a rather dingy apartment. But since Laura has left him, he spends as little time as possible there. It is in his apartment, though, that Rob stores his favorite records, and he has a lot of them. To help him get over Laura, Rob takes his whole collection down off the shelves and reorganizes them.
His childhood was spent in a working-class neighborhood that Rob does not remember too fondly. He visits his parents, but there is not much understanding in their relationship. He does not go back to this neighborhood very often.
A lot of the novel also takes place inside Rob’s head. He reminisces a lot as well as over-analyzes everything that has ever happened to him. His thoughts keep him from truly experiencing the present moment because he is too busy worrying about how he is coming across and what other people are thinking about him. When he does go out to a club, even though he does not like to be alone in his apartment, he is always anxious to leave.
Christgau, Robert. 1995. “Boys Will Be Men.” Village Voice, Vol. 40, No. 38, p. 64. Music critic Christgau offers a a fairly positive review in this detailed opinion piece.
Horspool, David. 1995. “No Satisfaction.” Times Literary Supplement, March 31, p. 21. Horspool gives a brief review of High Fidelity.
Huneven, Michelle. 1995. “Riffing on Relationships.” Los Angeles Times, December 24, p. 3. The reviewer found the novel entertaining but did not like the ending.
Jolly, Mark. 1995. “A Passion for Pop.” New York Times Book Review, September 3, p. 76. Jolly provides a positive review of the work.
King, Chris Savage. 1995. “All the Lonely People.” New Statesman & Society, Vol. 8, No. 348, pp. 47–48. King provides another review of Hornby’s first novel.
Rungren, Lawrence. 1995. “Review of High Fidelity.” Library Journal, Vol. 120, No. 13, p. 117. Brief review.
Steinberg, Sybil S. 1995. “Review of High Fidelity.” Publishers Weekly, Vol. 242, No. 30, p. 46. Brief review.
Wilkinson, Joanne. 1995. “Review of High Fidelity.” Library Journal, Vol. 120, No. 13, p. 117. Brief description of Hornby’s novel.
Bibliography (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Faulk, Barry. “Love, Lists, and Class in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.” Cultural Critique 66 (Spring, 2007): 153-176. In this well-rounded critique, Faulk looks at the relationship between rock and class. He analyzes the act of list-making in High Fidelity while expounding on similarities between Rob and Hornby.
Ferrebe, Alice. Masculinity in Male-Authored Fiction, 1950-2000: Keeping It Up. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Includes a discussion on High Fidelity’s place in the literature of the “New Lad” and the gender issues involved in Rob’s mode of address.
Keskinen, Mikko. “Single, Long-Playing, and Compilation: The Formats of Audio and Amorousness in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.” Critique 47, no. 1 (Fall, 2005): 3-21. Looks at how different formats of audio technology relate to love and relationships in the novel. The analysis includes many illustrative examples from the text.
Knowles, Joanne. Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity”: A Reader’s Guide. New York: Continuum, 2002. An authoritative guide to the novel; includes an analysis of the major themes as well as a short biography of the author, and examines the place of the novel in society.
Laing, Dave. “31 Songs and Nick Hornby’s Pop Ideology.” Popular Music 24, no. 2 (2005): 269-271. Examines the parallels between Hornby, who critiques music in his book of essays 31 Songs (2002), and Rob in High Fidelity.
Lea, Daniel. “Urban Thrall: Renegotiating the Suburban Self in Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and High Fidelity.” In Expanding Suburbia: Reviewing Suburban Narratives, edited by Roger Webster. New York: Berghahn Books, 2000. The chapter on Hornby’s works looks at the place of suburbia in the lives of Rob and Hornby. Emphasizes the effect of a middle-class upbringing on the books’ protagonists.