Nick Hornby is probably easy to hate. Having started his career by creating an entirely new genre (the wry sport-obsessed memoir, which made it possible for anyone with an obsession and a plausible prose style to write and have published their own wry memoir), he has since produced a series of novels that have pulled off the double whammy of which we all dream: almost universal critical acclaim, and sales in their millions. Football fans say they hate him because he supports Arsenal; a lot of writers I know hate him because he is hugely rich and has his own website. Only readers fall upon his books with simple, unabashed delight, and there are several good reasons for this, all of them enshrined within the hard covers of his latest, A Long Way Down.
We begin in North London, scene of all Hornby novels, on New Year’s Eve. Four very different characters are heading for the roof of a skyscraper locally known as ‘Toppers’ House’, in order to jump off it. Martin Sharp is a former daytime TV host whose life has collapsed: after