A Long Way Down

A Long Way Down

Book - 2005
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Penguin Putnam
In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they've reached the end of the line.

Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year's Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.

Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.

What's your jumping-off point?

Maureen
Why is it the biggest sin of all? All your life you're told that you'll be going to this marvelous place when you pass on. And the one thing you can do to get you there a bit quicker is something that stops you getting there at all. Oh, I can see that it's a kind of queue-jumping. But if someone jumps the queue at the post office, people tut. Or sometimes they say "Excuse me, I was here first." They don't say "You will be consumed by hellfire for all eternity." That would be a bit strong.

Martin
I'd spent the previous couple of months looking up suicides on the Internet, just out of curiosity. And nearly every single time, the coroner says the same thing: "He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed." And then you read the story about the poor bastard: His wife was sleeping with his best friend, he'd lost his job, his daughter had been killed in a road accident some months before . . . Hello, Mr. Coroner? I'm sorry, but there's no disturbed mental balance here, my friend. I'd say he got it just right.

Jess
I was at a party downstairs. It was a shit party, full of all these ancient crusties sitting on the floor drinking cider and smoking huge spliffs and listening to weirdo space-out reggae. At midnight, one of them clapped sarcastically, and a couple of others laughed, and that was it-Happy New Year to you, too. You could have turned up to that party as the happiest person in London, and you'd still have wanted to jump off the roof by five past twelve. And I wasn't the happiest person in London anyway. Obviously.

JJ
New Year's Eve was a night for sentimental losers. It was my own stupid fault. Of course there'd be a low-rent crowd up there. I should have picked a classier date-like March 28, when Virginia Woolf took her walk into the river, or November 25 (Nick Drake). If anybody had been on the roof on either of those nights, the chances are they would have been like-minded souls, rather than hopeless f*ck-ups who had somehow persuaded themselves that the end of a calendar year is in any way significant.


Baker & Taylor
Meeting on New Year's Eve on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination infamous as a last stop for suicidal people, a talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother share stories about their circumstances and decisions.

Blackwell North Amer
New Year's Eve at Toppers' House, North London's most popular suicide spot. And four strangers are about to discover that doing away with yourself isn't quite the private act they'd each expected.
Perma-tanned Martin Sharp's a disgraced breakfast TV presenter who had it all - the kids, the wife, the pad, the great career - and wasted it away. Killing himself is Martin's logical and appropriate response to an unliveable life.
Maureen has to do it tonight, because of Matty being in the home. He was never able to do any of the normal things kids do - like walk or talk - and loving-mum Maureen can't cope any more. Dutiful Catholic that she is, she's ready to commit the 'biggest sin of all'.
Half-crazed with heartbreak, loneliness, adolescent angst, seven Bacardi Breezers and two Special Brews, Jess's ready to jump, to fly off the roof.
Finally, there's JJ - tall, cool, American, looks like a rock-star, sometimes thinks he plays his guitar like one - who's weighted down with a heap of problems, and pizza.
Four strangers, who moments before were convinced that they were alone and going to end it all that way, share out the pizza and begin to talk ... Only to find that they have even less in common than first suspected.
Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down is a novel that asks some of the big questions: about life and death, strangers and friendship, love and pain, and whether a group of losers, and pizza, can really see you through a long, dark night of the soul.

Baker
& Taylor

Meeting on New Year's Eve on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination infamous as a last stop for suicidal people, a television talk-show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother share the stories about their circumstances and decisions. By the author of How to Be Good. 175,000 first pirnting.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c2005
ISBN: 9781573223027
1573223026
9781573223010
1573223018
Branch Call Number: FIC Hornb
Characteristics: 333 p.

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VaughanPLHeather Dec 31, 2016

Hornby is so good at illustrating our life's unspeakable pain with acerbic humour. A Long Way Down is not actually about committing suicide. It is about how life can open up another chapter if we don't die. On another new year's eve, it makes me ponder how many people out there need a heart-to-heart conversation, and how we can start this conversation ...

Pippi_L Jul 28, 2016

I had seen a couple of movies based on his books but had never read anything by Hornby until my sister highly recommended him. This is the one I started with and I haven't enjoyed a book like this in a long time. The characters are fascinating, the dialogue witty and smart, and overall a fun read. I can't wait to read more by this author.

i
imagenel
Feb 01, 2016

Check out the movie with Pierce Brosnan, Toni Colette, Imogen Poots, etc.

1
10509F
Oct 17, 2015

I loved this book. The different personalities represented were spot on.

k
kmoyer
Jun 04, 2015

I read this because when I asked a friend what they were reading they enthused about how it was a really funny novel about 4 disillusioned misfits who meet at the top of a tower block on New Year's Eve, each planning to jump. Hmm I thought -- funny...really? Anyway, it really is, slightly subversive humour - life affirming without being soppy.

m
mariella99
May 08, 2015

It seems weird that a novel ostensibly about suicide could be so funny and, in the end, so touching and human. I love Nick Hornby and he doesn't disappoint with this delightful read.

m
markex1
Aug 15, 2014

I returned this the same day I returned my other books checked out. I informed the lady at the check out counter that it was turned in and was told that sometimes the machine doesn't register it; but they will manually check it in when they pull the books from the bin.
Please check on this as I did turn it in on 8/7/14 at apx 12:53 pm -using the machine by the front door (inside).
Thank you.
Eva

u
Urbano
Jul 01, 2014

Humane, funny and heart-warming.

j
johnholderness
Jan 14, 2014

I liked both the writing and the story as well as the evolution of the characters' relationships. The book is funny, with depth. It reminded me a little of Kingsley Amis, a very good thing. I'll read more of Nick Hornby.

JCLJakeE Apr 17, 2013

Smart, humorous, and relevant, sharp witted, snappy, with just the right amount of social commentary to make it worth the effort. Hornby tells the tale of four poor souls, living completely different stages of their lives, from completely different walks of life, whom end up on top of the same building, on the same night, with the same intent... to walk off the ledge. The story is what happens next, as the individuals rally around each other in search of true meaning and a reason to go on.

A film adaptation is due out in late 2013.

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johnholderness
Jan 14, 2014

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JCLJakeE Apr 17, 2013

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