Introduction

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 358

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.

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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?

Extended Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1151

Hornby’s High Fidelity features Rob Fleming, the thirty-five-year-old narrator who sees the world through not rose-tinted glasses but rather lenses with a gray tinge. Rob is a gloomy character, continually lacking in confidence and therefore constantly second-guessing himself. The novel begins with Rob listing (he makes a lot of lists, throughout the novel) the five most significant girls/women of his life. He is doing this because the most noteworthy of all, Laura Lydon, has just left him. Laura and Rob had been living together for two years. Rob makes this list of women to prove to himself (and to Laura) that Laura was not even close to causing him the biggest heartache. This is totally untrue; but it is the only way that Rob can lift his spirits.

The first girlfriend on Rob’s list is Alison Ashworth. She gave him his first kiss. The relationship lasted three days. Then Alison switched to the next guy on the playground bench. The second girl on the list is Penny Hardwick, who refused to give in to Rob’s sexual advances. Soon after as they broke up, Penny gave herself to the class Romeo, Chris Thomson. This sent Rob down a bumpy road as he tried to figure out why he had so little personal luck with women. Rob stole the third girl, Jackie Allen, from his best friend, Phil. Turns out that after Rob was victorious in this conquest, he lost interest in Jackie.

Then Rob’s reminiscing timeframe jumps ahead two years to 1977, when Rob was in college. He figured that this was a new level of his life. Girls he meets from now on are not going to know anything about his childhood unless he wants to tell them certain facts. These older, college girls will not be aware of all his past failures with females. The first college girl’s name was Charlie Nicholson, and right from...

(The entire section contains 1509 words.)

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