In an exclusive piece he wrote for Billboard, High Fidelity author Nick Hornby gives his thoughts on the state of music consumption in 2015 and reveals where he thinks protagonist Rob and girlfriend Laura would be today, 20 years after the book’s first publication. Surprisingly, it’s not “tragically trampled to death by hipsters on Record Store Day.”
I have, from time to time, considered writing a sequel to the book. Rob and his long-suffering girlfriend Laura seemed emblematic of a certain kind of contemporary relationship—Rob confused and drifting, Laura focused and several years further on into adulthood. Maybe it would be interesting to see how they were getting on as they approached middle age. Did they have kids? Were they still together? What was Rob up to now? The answers to the first two questions were up to me (I reckon yes and no), but I could never come up with an answer to the third, or at least, not one that interested me enough to spend a couple of years of my life exploring.
The book’s popularity has been enduring, Hornby says, though “the technological innovations of the last 15 years should by rights have made [the novel] look like a story about blacksmiths.” His story of contemptuous, self-absorbed music fanatics still resonates today, almost as if easy access to all the recorded music in history makes people more elitist and not less.
“One of the great benefits of digital consumption is that it is democratic: In cyberspace, there’s nobody to judge you,” Hornby adds with the wistful, jejune air of someone who’s never used the Internet or read The A.V. Club’s comment threads. On the other hand, he says, “somewhere you have to believe that what you like is better than what all those other losers like,” proving that he really gets it after all.