Slam - Nick Hornby

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Slam - Nick Hornby

Post by Graham on Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:22 am

This is another thoroughly enjoyable novel from Hornby. His subject this time is teenage parenthood. It is told by Sam, a typical sixteen-year-old whose standard reply ‘I dunno’ serves him in good stead when he is whizzed into the future by Tony Hawk. That probably requires a bit of explaining. Tony Hawk? You don’t know who Tony Hawk is? He is the god of skate-boarding, or just ‘skating’ to the initiated. Skate-boarding is Sam’s life and Hawk’s poster is his Delphic oracle.

Sam’s mother takes him to a party where he meets Alicia. She aspires to be a model and is sarcastic and unfriendly as only good-looking teenage girls can be. She is on the rebound though and seduces Sam.

Oh wait, ‘whizzed into the future?’

When the difficult question of Alicia’s pregnancy arises, Hawk causes Sam to wake up months in the future with a baby crying and Alicia in bed beside him saying ‘It’s your turn’. It’s a dry run for his real future, not very dry, the baby’s nappy needs changing.
Hornby has a lot of fun with even the minor characters. Rabbit, Sam’s dim skate-boarding friend, is the perfect foil for Sam’s puzzlement when he is time-dislocated by Hawk. You cannot look stupid in front of Rabbit.

Rabbit: what was she doing at the party?

Sam: she lives there.

Rabbit: she lives at a party? How does that work?

Alicia’s parents had lofty plans for their daughter and can barely conceal their dismay at the prospect of a half-pleb grandchild.

I don’t know many teenagers and certainly none as intimately as Hornby portrays Sam but every phrase and thought sounds authentic. How do you research teenagers? As I remember it, not being understood was the job description.

I think I’ve said this before. Some writers you can just read. There is nothing in the way. You don’t notice the writing because it is so good. Faulks is like that and Hornby too though invariably his subjects and his style are more everyday. Slam is insightful, very real and a joy to read.

Graham
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