The key to Nick Hornby's success as a novelist in his home country of Great Britain is the fact that he presents himself as an "ordinary bloke" and not, per se, an academic, or a writer-type, on in fact anybody but a fanatical soccer fan who got lucky. His global appeal, however is more to do with the neurotic and comically tragic characters that he creates in his novels, all of whom seem to have a few of Hornby's own characteristics, but who are multi-faceted and complicated in the their own right, so that we, the reader, find ourselves actually caring about what happens to them.
High Fidelity is Hornby's first fictional novel but his second best-selling book, the first, Fever Pitch, chronicles his life as a die-hard fanatical supporter of North London's Arsenal Football Club. This memoir cemented him as both the next big thing on the literary scene and also as the lifetime enemy of fans of North London rival clubs Chelsea F.C. and Tottenhma Hotspur. His novels, on the other hand, are far less divisive.
High Fidelity is the story of neurotic and commitment-phobic vinyl record store owner Rob, Fleming; Rob's main passion in life is creating mix tapes, and almost all of his conversations seem to revolve around this. He also has a tendency to look at everything as a top five chart, because he wants to be a radio disc jockey. One day, Rob decides to make a top five chart of his most awful break-ups ever, prompted by the fact he has just been dumped by his girlfriend, Laura, because he has cheated on her. The countdown leads Rob to begin to reconsider his behavior in relationships and to work on himself, as he believes that he is not just a common or garden cheater, but that his commitment-phobia is actually a form of fear of death. When Laura's father passes away, the two drift back together. Laura is impressed with the work that he has done on himself and the new purpose he has injected into his life. At the end of the novel Rob makes a commitment to Laura, and also begins his new professional life as a radio disc jockey.
The book was an immediate hit and was adapted for both the big screen and the stage; in 2000, the film starred John Cusack, brooding neurotic du jour, in the title role of Rob. The film adaptation was followed two years later with a stage musical.
Hornby was thrust immediately into the limelight following the book's success, and followed it up with a sophomore novel, About A Boy, which was also adapted for the movies. More novels, a sports column and a pop culture column followed and soon Hornby was considered the voice of a generation for the British "lad" who liked beer, football, classic eighties pop music, and girl - in that order. He was named twenty-ninth on the list of most influential people in British culture in 2009.