Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Slam by Nick Hornby

With Slam, Nick Hornby returns to the male confessional narrative that solidified his literary reputation in High Fidelity.

The novel is narrated by Sam, a disarming teenage protagonist who's hero and "imaginary" best friend is skateboarding legend, Tony Hawk. Sam talks to Tony when he has problems and draws from the former's autobiography for insight. So the setup is firmly in place for an amusing young adult confessional novel with a skateboarding hook. Then the plot turns hard -- not unlike a skateboarding wipeout -- when Sam learns that his girlfriend is pregnant and he is to become a teenage father.

Hornby treats teenage pregnancy maturely and does not minimize the sweeping life changes facing Sam. Still, the skareboarding arc and Sam's interaction with a fictitious Tony Hawk persona ground the book and distinguish it from other realistic young adult novels.

Slam is worth reading, and while it in no way resonates as deeply as the author's other male confessional novels, Hornby fans and new readers alike should enjoy the book.