Friday, October 19, 2012

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Penguin Books 2009)

When Ros stopped by to find out whether they’d made any progress with the photographs, Annie still had the website up on her computer.

“Tucker Crowe,” said Ros. “Wow. My college boyfriend used to like him,” she said. “I didn’t know he was still going.”

“He’s not, really. You had a college boyfriend?”

“Yes. He was gay, too, it turned out. Can’t imagine why we broke up. But I don’t understand: Tucker Crowe has his own website?”

“Everyone has their own website.”

“Is that true?”

“I think so. Nobody gets forgotten anymore. Seven fans in Australia team up with three Canadians, nine Brits and a couple of dozen Americans, and somebody who hasn’t recorded in twenty years gets talked about every day. It’s what the Internet’s for. That and pornography. Do you want to know which songs he played in Portland, Oregon, in 1985?”

“Not really.”

“Then this website isn’t for you.”

“How come you know so much about it? Are you one of the nine Brits?”

“No. There are no women who bother. My, you know, Duncan is.”

What was she supposed to call him? Not being married to him was becoming every bit as irritating as she imagined marriage to him might be. She wasn’t going to call him her boyfriend. He was forty-something, for God’s sake. Partner? Life partner? Friend? None of these words and phrases seemed adequately to define their relationship, an inadequacy particularly poignant when it came to the word “friend.” And she hated it when people just launched in and started talking about Peter or Jane when you had no idea who Peter and Jane were. Perhaps she just wouldn’t ever mention him at all.

“And he’s just written a million words of gibberish and posted them up for the world to see. If the world were interested, that is.”

She invited Ros to inspect Duncan’s piece, and Ros read the first few lines.

“Aaah. Sweet.”

Annie made a face.

“Don’t knock people with passions,” said Ros. “Especially passions for the arts. They’re always the most interesting people.”

Everyone had succumbed to that particular myth, it seemed.

“Right. Next time you’re in the West End, go and hang out by the stage door of a theater showing a musical and make friends with one of those sad bastards waiting for an autograph. See how interesting you find them.”

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