Original language: English
Original title: State of the Union
Translation: Jaime Zulaika
Year of publication: 2023
If we are to consider, establishing a certain analogy that some will argue, that Nick Hornby is a novelist of “pop” descent, we can conclude that Hornby is the brother of Irvine Welsh who did not skip classes.
Unfortunately, if we continue with the somewhat forced analogies, we are faced with another lapidary phrase, which is that the peak of his career is beginning to be very far away, to such a distance that returning to it seems like a utopia, and that the decades that have passed after High Fidelity o How to be goods have had a devastating effect of absolute erosion on his talent until he reached this the state of the union which is an absolute literary nonsense, even if it is under the alibi, pretext or excuse of materializing a television project in which the writer participated as a scriptwriter. And I don’t know if some enthusiast asked him to do it or if Hornby saw the opportunity to appeal to the pockets of his obviously dwindling mass of unconditional fans.
Perhaps I could consider it as an appeal to transversality, as a late recycling (after 65), but everything seems imposed. Since the assimilation of the structure of How to be goods (wife of science, man of letters), to that absurd composition based on a rapid dialogue, so schematic and oriented towards the proximity of the conflict, that it seems like one of those old and dirty comedies (The Ropers o marriage scenes) that would have replaced the politically unacceptable with the foreseeable. Or perhaps it is that Hornby has been too lazy to define the characters and has chosen to let the reader conclude. So those ten minutes prior to a middle-aged couple’s visits to a couples therapist must serve to a) understand their European middle-class anguish because she made a mistake and the world is falling apart but a divorce is anything but a practical thing b) extrapolate that critical situation to speculate on the irreversibility of infidelities and the context of modern couple relationships c) do it with sufficient breadth of vision so that the reader (I was going to write spectator, I SWEAR) can identify.
Spoiler: fails in those three premises.
Basically because the dialogues are tan superficial and schematic, I suppose with the alibi of narrative dynamism. About drinks, about crossword puzzles, about other patients, about the therapist herself. No hint of depth, no subtext that implies anything more than apathy and frivolity. Even sexual encounters seem statistical. And the problems don’t seem like those of ordinary people. Not even the alibi british that was an attraction in his first novels, nor that kind of middle-class fan that allows those situations to be assimilated as relatively close. Hornby here fails at everything and manages, which is already difficult, to be banal, to be irrelevant. the state of the union It seems written at idle and with minimal effort, so confident in the pull of the brand that it already makes you a little angry.