Jonathan Barnes

Crowology

Juliet, Naked

By

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Almost the first thing that we learn about Tucker Crowe, the central figure in Nick Hornby’s amiable new novel, is that he has long ago parted company with success. A former rock star (fictional but slotted with impish ingenuity into the pantheon of real-life singer-songwriters by way of mocked-up message boards and Wikipedia entries), he has not made a record for more than two decades, since a mysterious incident in a lavatory at a gig inspired him to quit and retreat into obscurity. Tucker’s biggest fan is an Englishman named Duncan who lives in the wintry seaside town of Gooleness with Annie, his girlfriend for nearly fifteen years. A self-professed ‘Crowologist’ (‘I don’t think it would be overstating the case were I to describe myself as a world expert’), Duncan spends more time than is altogether healthy speculating about the life of his idol and the nature of the event that triggered his retirement. Annie, however, ‘aching for a child’, finds herself caring less and less about the musician’s oeuvre, is capable of feeling only ‘faint conditional affection’ for the man with whom she lives and has begun to entertain thoughts like, ‘it was hopeless, life, really. It was set up all wrong.’

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