Read by David Case
Published August 1995 by Riverhead
Source: audiobook checked out from my local library
Rob is a pop-music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films; top five Elvis Costello songs; top five episodes of Cheers.
Rob tries dating a singer, but maybe it’s just that he’s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think that life with kids, marriage, barbecues, and soft-rock CDs might not be so bad.
I adore the movie adaptation of this book, mostly because I adore John Cusack who plays Rob Fleming. I already knew that but this book reinforced that it was Cusack who did that for me, rather than the character, because on the written page I really, really did not like Rob.
Maybe it's because as the mother of a men and aunt of more men who are nearly the same age, I have no tolerance for men who suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. Sure, it's fine for you to really, really enjoy records (or gaming, or sports, or even Dungeons and Dragons) but they cannot...I repeat cannot...define your life at the expense of doing things like making sure you can support yourself. And records define Rob (and Barry and Dick). Also, Rob is just not a very nice guy. Early in his "romantic" life, he engineers the breakup of a friend just so he can pursue the ex-girlfriend. As an adult he cheats on his live-in girlfriend. He sleeps with another woman just because she has a recording contract and he's hoping that maybe she'll include him on a record cover.
In the movie, because Rob was played by Cusack it was understandable to believe that there was a good person in there just waiting to come out. And, in the end, he did. In the book, we don't get that preconceived idea about Rob so that even as Rob and Laura work to patch things up, you're never entirely sure that Rob has what it takes to make a relationship work. Luckily, by that point in the book, I did finally like him enough to hope that he did.
Now I need to go watch the movie again. Because the parts of this book that are funny (and there is quite a lot of funny here) shine in the movie.