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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"How To Be Good"

by Nick Hornby, AF, 2001, 305p, rating=3

A stale marriage of 20 years in Katie's eyes somewhat justified her to commit adultery and consequently asks David for a divorce.  David takes it in stride not believing her because we're talking about Katie here, the doctor, the good one.  David learns that the affair was true and stumbles into GoodNews, a self-proclaim homeless guru, who miraculously heals David's back pain and gave him a new outlook in life as well.  This leads David to develop convictions to help the needy and begins by taking in GoodNews and soon teams up with him to further the good cause.  This new attitude becomes insufferable for Katie and impacts their children as well.  How do you live with a pious man now?  Does this mean they've gone religious and will have to go to church?  Is it really too much to ask to take in homeless kids and rally the neighbors to do the same?  How much goodness can the family take?  Which David was better, the old or the new?  Katie had to figure it all out for her sanity.

Is this a self-help book?  No, it's a novel.  Does it really give you a sense of how to be good?  Yes, by thinking outside the box.  Can one apply those answers?  Sure, but will people be willing to do it is debatable and that's part of the beauty of this book.  Mr. Hornby wrote this book in sarcastic, political, and philosophical language that gets the reader thinking about goodness.  Talking the talk and walking the walk are the ideals but they sure cause havoc!  So we're left to wonder if it's convenient to fit charity into our lives.

The writing style was engaging, witty, and intuitive.  It wasn't preachy but it did have moments of too much sarcasm and overly indulged in descriptive fill-ins.  Also not a wonderful portrait of marriage but then again marriage can be a monstrous loopy roller coaster of a ride!  But that's fun, right?  Especially if the two are in it together for the long hull.

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