“That’s not what she means,” I said. “She means, like, we are what’s happened to us. So if you take away what’s happened to us, then, you know…Well, who would you be?”
“I’d be someone different.”
Dialogue from Nick Hornby‘s A Long Way Down.
What is ironic about this bit of dialogue is that in the specific situation of the book, being someone different would be a good thing. On New Year’s Eve, four people meet on the roof of Toppers’ House, a famous London suicide spot.
Again, good dialogue in a book often leads to a movie. Nick Hornby has four to his credit: Fever Pitch (his memoir) a UK and a US version, High Fidelity (novel), and About a Boy (novel).
How to be Good, published in 2001, was the first book of his I read. A friend loaned it to me, but as soon as it came out in paperback, I bought my own copy.
The first sentence: “I am in a car park in Leeds when I tell my husband I don’t want to be married to him anymore.”
Then, “David isn’t even in the car park with me. He’s home, looking after the kids, and I have only called him to remind him that he should write a note for Molly’s class teacher. The other bit just sort of …slips out.”
What Nick Hornby does so well. The truth made more accessible by humor. Humor made more poignant by the truth.