Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nick Hornby Speaks

Over at The Atlantic's website, Jessica Murphy conducts an interview with Nick Hornby, who is one of my very favorite writers. He has a new book out, Slam, which is geared toward a young adult audience. Hornby also pens a great, quirky column in a magazine you should be reading, The Believer. And from the interview I discovered that he has a blog as well.

I read. A lot. It's sort of a professional imperative. And I love much of what I read -- scholarship, political commentary, reviews, and so forth. And yet there are certain writers whose work will always get me to stop what I am doing. Hornby is one. Chuck Klosterman is another. Both write readable, sometimes mesmerizing prose with a distinctive voice and worldview. Their work is quite removed (in many ways -- Hornby's Fever Pitch did influence Bleeding Red and I am writing a review essay in which Hornby's High Fidelity and several of Klosterman's books feature prominently) from anything I write about or teach. Some probably see them as fluff, but I don't buy that.

Accessibility should not be a bad word. Scholars in all fields (history is far from the worst) need to absorb this message. Clear, crisply written narrative history ought to be the gold standard in the field. Even for those writers whose narrative strengths do not measure up, the goal of clear, readable prose still should be foremost. Most writers could learn something about their craft from Nick Hornby.

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