Nick Hornby was born in 1957 and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer.
His first book "Fever Pitch" enjoyed great critical success, it was published in 1992. The film of "Fever Pitch" (with screenplay by the author) was released in 1997. His novels "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy" were published to equal critical and popular acclaim.
Nick Hornby lives in North London.
2. Main Characters:
Marcus: 12, weird, suffers from the separation of his parents, lives with his mother Fiona, has a hard time at school, broody person, out of touch, not "cool"
Fiona: Marcus' mother, hippy, believes in alternative things, tries to commit suicide, seriously depressive
Will: 36, thinks he's cool, doesn't work, had no problems before becoming Marcus' friend, easygoing
Ellie: Marcus' first friend at school, always in serious trouble with somebody, enthusiastic fan of Kurt Cobain, quarrels with everyone, seems very self-confident
Children are more or less the last thing, Will Freeman, 36 year old and convinced single, wants. He lives comfortably of the profits of a famous Christmas carol, his father wrote in 1938. So, Will has never worked in his life - and recently he has found out, that single mothers are ideal for the sort of relationship he likes. To meet these women, he invents a little son and joins SPAT (Single Parent - Alone Together), a group of single parents, mostly women. There he gets to know Suzie, Fiona's friend. Suzie takes along Fiona's twelve-year-old son Marcus to a SPAT picnic, so his seriously depressive mother would have an afternoon to relax.
When they come home in the evening, it turns out, that this idea wasn't great: Fiona has tried to commit suicide! Will doesn't like incidents like this; he hates complications and wants to keep himself out. But he doesn't reckon with Marcus - who suddenly knocks on his door and wants to be let in. Rather quickly Marcus discovers, that Will's son is only an invention. He puts the screws on Will: he wouldn't give it away, if Will went out with Fiona. Marcus, still suffering from the separation of his parents and tormented by the fear of being alone one day, has figured out, that, if Will and his mother were together, the loss of one of them wouldn't be that terrible. But after several meetings also Marcus gives up.
First, Will doesn't fancy Marcus' regular visits, but he gets used to them, starts to enjoy them.
By and by he finds out a lot of the problems the boy had in his new school, where some older pupils give him a hard time. Well, Marcus is weird indeed. He doesn't know any singers of the charts - he prefers Joni Mitchell and Bob Marley, no footballers either, his haircut isn't right, his clothes aren't modern. At least at these points Will can help, because if he's interested in anything, then in music, fashion and style.
Without wanting to believe it, Will noticed, that he can't lock out the life with all his problems any longer, and during the next months not only Marcus changes...
Marcus gets to know Ellie, an older girl of his school, famous for always being in trouble, usually for something quite bad. Ellie and Will show him - everyone on his own way - how to be a kid.
Also Will starts to act his age, wants to have a family - a real, not an invented one.
Fiona, Marcus' mother, wants to live again, is surprised by the change of her son, but in a positive way.
"About a Boy" is about the growing-up of two totally different men, and about the difficulties they have. Although Will is three times older than Marcus, he sometimes seems younger - especially the way he deals with feelings is not the way a 36-year-old normally does. Despite he doesn't like children, despite he has no sense of family, he is obviously the only one who's able to understand Marcus, to help him out of his weird world into the world of a "normal" 12-year-old boy.
Everyday life and old habits are stumbling blocks, but with a combination of desperate honesty and hunger for life they get over everything.
5. Own opinion:
I became aware of this author because of the film "High Fidelity", which is in the cinemas now. First, I also wanted to buy "High Fidelity", but then I took "About a Boy" - it turns out to be a good choice!
It's a slice of life; not everyone's life, of course, not everybody has a father, who wrote "Santa's Super Sleigh", not everybody has a mother, who suffers from existential despair. But it's the combination of all these circumstances, which makes this story so brilliant. With a sense of humour the author explores the connections people make when the so-called ideal family model does not apply. He shows the relationships from Marcus and Will's point of view; Marcus, a weird twelve-year-old with grown-up habit, Will, a cool guy with the maturity of a teenager.
Because of the snotty writing style, everything seems more realistic, the dialogs are very expressive.
It's a great book, but I think, you have to read it at least twice, to notice all the details.