Nick Hornby

Which do you love more: your iTunes collection, which will always be there for you, or your boyfriend/girlfriend, who might leave you one day? That’s the dilemma—or one of several—for the characters in Juliet, Naked (Riverhead, $25.95), who must weigh the perfectly recorded passions of an obscure, revered ’80s album against their own disorderly longings. Nick Hornby divides his new novel among three perspectives: the reclusive American rocker who retired, Salinger-like, after his masterpiece; the English über-fan who maintains a Web site devoted to the mysterious singer; and the fan’s long-suffering girlfriend, who tries to share his enthusiasm but would rather have a baby. Though the latter two have spent 15 years together, a rift is revealed with the demo tapes for Juliet are released as Juliet, Naked, and they write radically different blogs on the new-old album. Apart from being a typical Hornby novel about guys’ obsessive interest in music (and the inability of guys to relate to women, as in High Fidelity), this new tale is about human connection—something like the suicide club that forms among strangers in A Long Way Down. Filled with fake Wikipedia pages and email correspondence, Juliet, Naked is set in a world that rewards and enables our narrowest fixations. You can love one thing to the exclusion of almost everything else. But, Hornby reminds us, albums can be reassessed. And so, too, can people. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Oct. 9, 7 p.m., 2009

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