About A Boy

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The Book
Title: About A Boy
Author: Nick Hornby
Year of publication: 2000

The Characters
Marcus is a twelve years old boy, and one of the two main characters. When Marcus was eight years old, his parents Fiona and Clive got divorced. For a couple of years they both lived in Cambridge, but the summer when Marcus was twelve years old, he and his mother moved to London. Marcus is not like an ordinary 12 years old boy, he is the oldest 12 years old in the world. This is probably because his mother is a depressive hippie, which he has to look after.
His mother Fiona makes him listen to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, she has also made him become a vegetarian and she only buys him ugly and unmodern clothes. In fact he has never even owned a pair of trainers.
Marcus is a short, slim, pale-faced boy with thin, straight light-brown hair. He is insecure, ignorant and confused. He doesn’t talk a lot in school, probably because he has no friends, and as fast as he opens his mouth someone is bullying him. Sometimes he opens his mouth anyway, unintentionally singing on some song that he’s thinking of.
All this makes Marcus considered weird, not only by the kids in school, but by the teachers and by himself.

Will Freeman, 36, is the other main character. He is a layabout and has never worked his entire life. In 1958 his father wrote a song called “Santa’s Super Sleigh”, which gives Will so much money that he doesn’t have to work. Instead of working Will spends his whole days watching TV, shopping, getting his hair fixed, drinking or driving around in his cool car, listening to Nirvana.
Will is a rather tall and good-looking man with short, curly dark-brown hair. He thinks that he’s really cool. He has got a cool apartment with cool furniture, a cool CD-collection, a cool car, a cool haircut and cool clothing.
At least, this is what he thinks. Actually Will is extremely shallow; he hasn’t much interest in anything or anyone, and one of his main theories of life is to avoid all problems by avoiding all people.
No attachments. No responsibilities. No headaches.
Will likes to compare himself with an island, who doesn’t need anybody to survive. And fact is that he doesn’t have anybody around him to love either, he has got lots of women, but he doesn’t love any of them. He has no family and no real friends.

Fiona, Wills mother, is a 38 years old hippie. She is, just like Marcus, a very eccentric person. She believes in things like vegetarianism and aroma-therapy.
Fiona is a short rather slim woman with short, straight, brown hair. She doesn’t care about her looks, and wears old, very special clothes that would fit in better in the 60’s or 70’s than in the 90’s.
She is very depressed and cries a lot. One day she tries to commit suicide, but fails.

Ellie McCrae is a 15 years old girl in Marcus’s school. She is famous in the school, as she’s always in trouble for something. All the kids are scared of her.
Ellie has tousled black hair, wears black lipstick and listens to Nirvana. She also claims that she is in love with Kurt Cobain.
Clive, Marcus’s father lives in Cambridge with his new girlfriend Lindsey. He is a hippie just like Fiona, and uses to smoke weed. He doesn’t really care about Marcus, but that’s not a problem for Marcus, as he doesn’t care about him either.

The setting
The story is taking place in London during the early 90’s.
The surroundings aren’t described very detailed, so you have to think for yourself. But as you know that the story’s taking place in London, and famous buildings, places and roads are mentioned every now and then, you don’t think of the insufficient descriptions.

The Contents
The Plot
It’s the autumn -93, and Marcus and his mother Fiona has recently moved from Cambridge to London. The kids in his new school treat Marcus like he was some kind of freak, and everyone, except from his mum and her friend Suzie, consider him weird. Marcus has a terrible time at home, where he has to look after his mum, outside school, where older kids can find him and mercilessly bully him and steal his things, and in school, where both the children and the teachers(!) makes fun of him.
The same time in another part of London, Will Freeman has just broken up with a single mum, and is now wondering how to get in contact with new sexy single mothers. He gets a brilliant idea, which includes pretending he has a son called Ned, so he can join SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) and hopefully meet sexy single mums.
On the SPAT-meeting, he meets a lovely woman called Suzie, and she invites him to go on a picnic in the park with her the following Saturday. Will accepts the invitation, and spends the next week buying baby seats for his car and learning things about babies.
The same week Fiona tells Marcus that he’s going on a picnic with her friend Suzie. He doesn’t want to, but his mother forces him to go.
On the following Saturday Marcus and Will meets. Will thinks that Marcus is weird and annoying and prevents him from hitting on Suzie, and Marcus thinks that Will is a good-for-nothing that just wants to score with Suzie. Marcus and Will don’t match at all from the beginning, but when Marcus accidentally kills a duck with a piece of bread, Will helps Marcus out of the scrape, and a strange relationship arises between them.
Later the same day when they bring Marcus home, they find his mother Fiona sprawled unconscious on the sofa, attempted suicide. The attempted suicide comes as a chock for Marcus. It makes him angry, and makes his life become even worse. Now he’ll have to watch her every day, and never leave her alone, if she should try again. Because if she succeeds the next time, he will be all alone.
Marcus starts to pry around, and finds out that Will doesn’t have any son called Ned, which he later tells Suzie and Fiona and they start to dislike Will a lot.
Marcus comes up with the idea that if Fiona had a boyfriend, they would be a total of three people, and if one of them disappeared, he would have at least one person left. If Fiona and the boyfriend had a baby, there would be four of them, and that would be even better and he would never be alone. Marcus tries to match up Fiona and Will, which doesn’t work at all.
Marcus starts to visit Will after school, even though neither Will nor Fiona wants him there, but gradually their relationship starts to grow, against Wills will. Marcus “adopts” Will as his stepfather, and after a while Will realizes that he actually likes and cares about this strange, lonely kid.
During the next half-year Will teaches Marcus how to be a boy, and what clothes and sneakers he should wear, and Marcus learns Will how to be an adult. Will becomes Marcus’s best friend, and even though he is unaware of it, he does the right thing for Marcus on and on. Both Marcus and Will goes through drastic personality-changes. Marcus gets his first real friend, Ellie McCrae, who he meets in the corridor outside the principal’s office.
Ellie is a rebellious teenager who listens to grunge and quarrels with everybody. With her as a friend nobody bullies Marcus anymore, because if they do, Ellie will knock them down. Marcus becomes much more self-confident, and dares to say what he thinks to his teachers and his mother when it’s really necessary.
Will does also change, and on New Years Eve he breaks one of his own basic rules; not to fall in love. On a party he meets the lovely single mother Rachel, which he gets really interested in. She thinks that Marcus is his son, and he doesn’t to anything to change her belief, as it makes him more interesting for her. Will uses Marcus to win her heart, and after many turns he finally succeeds.
The book describes the development of Marcus and Will; how Will finally becomes an adult, and how Marcus dares to say what he thinks, and not just do what people tells him to do.
In the end of the book, Marcus and Ellie are going on a trip to Marcus’s father Clive in Cambridge to scold at him, as he doesn’t care about Marcus enough. The whole trip ends up in a disaster; Ellie gets drunk in an attempt to drain her sorrows since her beloved Kurt Cobain has committed suicide. She jumps of the train on the wrong station and smashes the window to a record-shop since they have a picture of Kurt in the shop window, and she thinks that it’s because they want to make money by his death. Which, of course was a misunderstanding.
A key episode
“Marcus couldn’t believe it. Dead. A dead duck. OK, he’d been trying to hit it on the head with a piece of sandwich, but he tried to do all sorts of things, and none of them had ever happened before…
There must have been something wrong with it. It was probably just about to die from a heart attack or something; it was just a coincidence…
´What’s that floating next to it?` Will asked. ´Is that the bread you threw at it?`
Marcus nodded unhappily.
´That’s not a sandwich, that’s a bloody French loaf. No wonder it keeled over. That would have killed me.` “

This is one of the key episodes in the book, when Marcus accidentally kills a duck with a piece of bread on the “Dead Duck Day”. This is what makes the connection between the two main characters, and if it wouldn’t have happened, they wouldn’t have got to know each other, and they would have continued being the tragic individuals that they were. This meeting also gives Marcus another person around him. A child needs more than one person around him to lean on in the life’s different phases, and Will becomes an important male pattern for Marcus.

The Genre
About a boy is a comic drama. The book has lots of characteristic features of the time; the revolting teenagers, listening to grunge, the young boys with their computer games and gameboys, and the depressed mother. All these features are very characteristic, as the computers were new, the grunge was popular at the specific time and the word “depression” attracted attention. In this book, Hornsby has really captured them all.
The Language
The book is written in third-person. Nick Hornby is telling the story, and you can really see his amazing ability to understand how the characters in the book thinks, as the book contains a lot of information about the characters thoughts and dreams.
The book is written in the spoken language, which is good, as you really can understand what sort of person that would use the specific word. It makes the story come alive in a better way.
The Author
Nick Hornby was born on April 17, 1957 in Maidenhead, England. When Hornby was 11 years old, his parents divorced and his father began to take him to watch the North London Premier League club Arsenal, during their visits. He developed into a loyal fan of the team. Hornby also became a dedicated reader, reading almost everything.
As an English Literature major at Cambridge University, he began composing stage plays, screenplays, and radio plays in his spare time. A professor then introduced Hornby to novelist Anne Tyler’s Dinner at a Homesick Restaurant, which inspired him to write prose.
After graduating, Hornby worked a series of jobs - he taught grade school, gave language classes and served as host for Samsung executives visiting the U.K. - before becoming a paid journalist.
He composed a pop culture column for the Independent and wrote about books and sports for publications like Esquire and the Sunday Times.
In 1992, he published his first book, Contemporary American Fiction, a collection of essays on American writers such as Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff.
That same year, he released Fever Pitch, a memoir about being a devoted Arsenal fan since childhood. The work was a surprise hit, earning countless acclaim.
Also Hornsby’s following novels, High Fidelity, 1995, and About a Boy, 1998 were successes, and all three of them have been filmed.
As the parents of an autistic son, Hornby and his ex-wife founded TreeHo...

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Kommentarer på arbetet

  • Inactive member 2007-12-11

    Det var väldigt långt man tapp

  • Inactive member 2008-03-18

    håller faktiskt med... Den var

  • Inactive member 2008-04-28


  • Musse Ali 2010-05-04

    mycket bra


Inactive member [2004-05-20]   About A Boy
Mimers Brunn [Online]. https://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=2904 [2021-12-02]

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