Story last updated at 10/21/2009 - 1:33 pm
Duncan Mitchell is a peculiar fanatic and self-described authority on '80s rocker Tucker Crowe, who mysteriously dropped out of the public eye in 1986. Duncan has a Web site dedicated to Tucker, organizes conventions and lectures about him, and participated in a documentary about his idol.
Duncan's longtime girlfriend, Annie, has accepted that Tucker will always be a part of their relationship. But as her biological clock ticks away, Annie realizes that she's wasting her time, and even questions whether she ever liked him.
When Duncan receives an advance copy of "Juliet, Naked," a release of old acoustic demos from Tucker's famous breakup album, "Juliet," it sets off a wave of excitement in the Tucker Crowe fan community. Duncan praises the work in a review on his Web site. Annie disagrees, and writes an opposing review. Her review catches Tucker's attention, igniting an online attraction between two kindred spirits.
Readers familiar with Hornby's previous books will notice several recurring themes. He writes about fanaticism and dysfunctional relationships as he did in "Fever Pitch," a memoir about his devotion to a soccer team, and "High Fidelity," a novel about an obsessive record store owner who examines his failed relationships.
In "Juliet, Naked," Duncan is the out-of-touch fanatic and Tucker, with his trail of ex-wives and children he barely knows, suffers from bad relationships. His only redeeming relationship is with his 6-year-old son Jackson.
Hornby is adept at capturing the essence and idiosyncrasies of the obsessed fan. The text is poignant as his middle-aged characters contemplate their lives, and the dialogue is, at times, most profound.