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Published:December 7th, 2006 14:00 EST
Nick Hornby Pleases Loyal Fans

Nick Hornby Pleases Loyal Fans

By Jessica Baird

As hundreds of University of Memphis students flipped through their worn out copies of High Fidelity, anxiously waiting for Nick Hornby to take the stage, a student mumbled to his friend, "He`s an enigma." For the millions of fans that have purchased the immensely popular author`s books over the past 13 years, he is just that; an author whose vivid narratives create living, breathing characters in the reader`s mind.

"He`s not only an inspiration to aspiring writers, but he`s given so much pleasure to readers," said Barbara Ching, director of humanities at The U of M.

Ching, during her introduction of the famous Englishman at The Rose Theatre Wednesday night, described Hornby as an author who creates simple stories full of warmth and complexity.

When the applause and cheers subsided, Hornby read aloud from "Nipple Jesus," a part of Sleeping with the Angel, an anthology he edited. It tells a story of a bouncer turned art gallery security guard, who is in charge of protecting a unique and provocative work of art.

While patrolling the art gallery, the narrator of "Nipple Jesus" begins to describe the various people, who span all walks of life, and come to visit the gallery. Hornby`s ability to make a character become flesh and bone was evident throughout these descriptions.

For instance, he describes one gallery patron as having, "chunks missing from his hair like he`d been eaten by moths."

The clear visuals continued on to a passage from "A Long Way Down," Hornby`s most recent novel. "A Long Way Down" revolves around four suicidal characters who find kindred spirits in one another.

One of the highlights of the evening, judging by the audience`s uproarious laughter, occurred when the character of Jess describes seeing an angel who told her not to leap to her death from a London rooftop.

"He was all fuzzy like he wasn`t tuned in properly," the character of Jess said.

Although the audience was thoroughly entertained by Hornby`s readings, the subsequent question and answer session revealed a more personal side of the author.

A few Hornby tidbits are: he loves the new Cat Power record, he carries a notebook with him at all times and he never thought his novels would be turned into celluloid.

"Nothing about the book High Fidelity was cinematic," Hornby said. "That`s why John Cusack was talking into a camera for an hour and a half."

Although the film adaptations came as a surprise, Hornby says he has great affection for the film adaptations of his books. Others include "About a Boy" and "Fever Pitch."

As the questions continued, Hornby said it is not an easy decision to pick which of his books means the most to him.

"Asking to choose a favorite book really is like picking a favorite child," Hornby said. "It`d be a lot easier to answer who my favorite child is because I`m far away from home so it probably won`t get back there."

The audience may not have learned who Hornby`s favorite child was, but a majority of the crowd stood in line for nearly an hour to take home a Hornby signature.

Whether you are a Hornby fan because of the characters he creates, the music he loves or the films he has inspired, Wednesday`s event will not be soon forgotten.