From The Desk Of The Sharp Things’ Perry Serpa: Nick Hornby

Having actually included MAGNET as one of my favorite things (and I promise that’s not sucking up, I really love the publication), you can imagine how chuffed I was at the prospect of a guest editorship. Over the past, well, several years of the Sharp Things‘ existence, Eric Miller has been a friend and an advocate, even when no one else was, so I’m honored to be able to ramble on a bit about a bunch of shit that I dig, because I want everyone to know about it and, more significantly, because it makes me feel important. 😉 Over to you, me …


Back in 2006, I wrote an odd little song called “The Jumpers” to kick off TST’s third album, A Moveable Feast. The song was inspired by Nick Hornby’s latest novel at the time, A Long Way Down, a series of intermingling vignettes about four disparate personalities who threaten to off themselves by jumping from the same roof of the same tower block on New Year’s Eve. I emailed the song to Nick, of course, resolved to the fact that hitting “send” would be much like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into Vesuvius. It had been months, but finally, and coincidentally, while I sat in the smoky lounge at the infamous Columbia Hotel in London, I retrieved an email from Hornby (himself) letting me know how much he liked the song and that he’d downloaded the rest of our catalog and was checking it all out. It was as incredible a moment in my quasi-musical career as playing to David Byrne at the Knitting Factory a few years earlier. Over time, I’ve riffled through almost all of Nick’s inventory, from Fever Pitch to High Fidelity (better in London) to About A Boy (also a great film) and leaping around a bit, How To Be Good, An Education, Juliet, Naked (we’ll talk more about this one at a later date), his lovely Songbook (published as such in the States), chronicling a year’s worth (2003) of songs that inspired him, a few awesome short stories and, more recently, Ten Years In The Tub, a year-by-year diary of literary works he’d been devouring for decade, a work both informative and pretty darn funny. The overall takeaway here is that the man has never let me down. As entertaining as I’ve found his work to be, I’ve also found it to be “just the thing” in each and every case, whether I needed a good laugh or some important insight, or both, the universe led me to this guy and his work: both timeless and timely, and profound literature without being too aware of itself.

Video after the jump.