Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby

Duncan’s life is centred on his obsession with musician Tucker Crowe. His idea of a good holiday is a pilgrimage visiting sites of “relevance” to Crowe’s career.

Juliet is Crowe’s most successful album, after which he disappeared into anonymity, until the internet gave a platform for a few widespread fans to air their views on his career and to spread theories about his current situation and whereabouts.

A recording of demo tapes made before the hard production work turned Juliet into a more polished and commercial product is released with the title Juliet Naked, and the internet discussion spurred by the album changes relationships, breaking some and creating new ones. The obsession that has given Duncan a sense of purpose for decades eventually brings to an end the certainty and security that he’s taken for granted.

I can partly recognise in Duncan a more extreme example of my younger self and how deeply I could get caught up with a favoured singer or group. How in my early teens I would continually switch radio stations, trying to hear Suzi Quatro’s 48 Crash again and again. Or how, almost two decades later, I’d listen to Roaring Jack’s Cat Among the Pigeons at least once every day; and drive a 160km round trip every Thursday night to see them perform at a Newtown pub.

But one aspect of the book portrays a reality far different to my own attitudes: an aspect that depicts today’s society and human relationships in a not too flattering light.

While Juliet Naked is not the risqué book that the title might suggest, part of the book does portray a very casual attitude to sex, as if it’s merely a form of recreation or entertainment, like going out for a drink or a meal. Just another form of personal gratification devoid of love or commitment or even the thought of shared experience. Potential sexual partners are seen as a means to a personal end

In this I see a sad symptom of the shallowness of an “it’s all about me” society where individuals feel it unnecessary to look beyond themselves and their own “needs”.