Nick Hornby is the author of the novels Funny Girl, A Long Way Down, How to Be Good (a New York Times bestseller), High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and of the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is also the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Award, and the Orange Word International Writers London Award 2003.
EVERYONE'S READING BASTARD
Bestselling author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, About a Boy, Funny Girl) is a virtuoso at love gone wrong. In his new short story, Everyone’s Reading Bastard, Hornby paints a wincingly comic picture of just how messy modern relationships can become, as his characters hit delightful new lows of cruelty, misery, and pettiness.
Newspaper columnist Elaine Harris has always written about her life with husband Charlie. Her editor and her legions of readers count on full disclosure from her, but what no one—least of all Charlie—anticipates, only a week after the couple decide to end their marriage, is the speed and inventiveness with which she begins to try him in the court of public opinion. On Monday morning, it’s a smirk by a forgettable former lover that first clues him in that something’s wrong. Then, before he’s settled in at his desk, another co-worker salutes Charlie with the title of Elaine’s new column: “Bastard!” A quick check online leads him to the column, the subtitle leaving little doubt as to what he’s in for: “Life with an Ex. He’s Gone but Not Forgotten.” Charlie’s only hope is that Elaine will get bored and abandon the weekly column—a colorful litany of his failures as a partner, father, breadwinner, and lover—or that it won’t catch on. But soon enough it’s a multimedia feeding frenzy, and everyone’s reading Bastard! And for Charlie, that’s a bitch.
Only a storyteller like Hornby—who’s given us so many unforgettable novels of comedy and heartbreak—could conceive of an average guy trying to survive an ex’s wrath gone viral. Witty and wise, outlandish and human, his latest rollicking account of love’s fallout should be instructive: Sometimes no one wins. Sorry, Charlie.