Book Review: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2006)

nick and norah's infinite playlist

I’ve been pretty scattershot with my book reading choices these days. I’ve given up on the pre-planned Ambitious Reading Lists this year and have just been grabbing things willy nilly from the ol’ to-read pile and my growing collection of Kindle ebooks. In the case of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which I’ve had in a bin for three or four years, it jumped to the front of the pack for one simple reason: it’s short.

Back in 2009, my wife and I checked out the film based on this book co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I dug it and when I saw a copy of the novel on sale for a few bucks, snatched it up. But, I knew nothing about it going in, so the fact that the book is actually split between two POVs was a surprise. Basically, Nick gets a chapter, then Norah gets one written by Levithan then Cohn respectively.

The story itself finds Nick, a bass player in a band playing in New York City, asking a stranger to be his pretend girlfriend for five minutes so his ex won’t think he’s a lonely loser. As it happens, the girl is none other than Norah, a young woman who’s also recently broken up and trying to figure her life out. The two weave in and out of each others’ lives for the rest of a long NYC night filled with bands, secondary characters, exes, cab rides, burlesque nuns, Yugos and failed sexual advances as told by the two primary members of this burgeoning couple.

I really enjoyed the back and forth nature of this book and how it relates to relationships. From a writing perspective, it was nice to see each writer give the character such a unique and personal-feeling voice even if Norah gets a little Juno-y at times. But the approach also works well from a storytelling perspective. Obviously, in the real world, you only have your own experiences to go on, so it’s fun in fiction to explore this kind of story where you’re living the same events through two different, very articulate brains. While the movie got more into the adventure of the night by way of finding their favorite band Where’s Fluffy? and a few other devices, this one just gets into their heads and rides out the evening.

Aside from the dual narration and dual authorship, I was surprised by how graphic the book is. I wouldn’t say it’s lude or anything like that, but it’s filled with F bombs and a wide spectrum of sex talk. I wasn’t offended by any of this, mind you, it just wasn’t what I was expecting from a young adult book. Then again, I’ve had very little experience in that realm since I stopped reading Christopher Pike books.

I was also surprised with how the movie informed my reading of this book and at times worked against me. The filmmakers nailed it when they hired Kat Dennings. My mental concept of the actress perfectly reflected this character in my mind. In fact, her 2 Broke Girls character seems even more in line with Norah than my memory of the film. But, Michael Cera as Nick just wasn’t working for my brain. He’s described as tall, dark haired, disheveled and kind of muscular. It wasn’t until I finished the book that an actor really came into play in my head to fill the Nick role: a young, lean Jason Segel with the intensity he brought to the role of Nick on Freaks and GeeksOddly, when Norah’s ex Taj came into the picture, I was kept thinking of Superbad-era Martin Starr because I thought he played the part in the film, but it was really Jay Baruchel.  

Anyway, I not only enjoyed the tale told within the pages of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but also appreciate the reading momentum it gave me. It seems like I start and lose interest in books pretty quickly, even if it’s something I really want to read by a favorite author, but finishing a book always makes me want to read another. I’m hoping I can ride this wave back into Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys and finish that sometime this month. We’ll see though, I’m always getting distracted by something whether it be a trade or Candy Crush.

Four Movies I Dug

2009-02-21
5:28:59 am

It may come as a bit of surprise, but my movie intake has almost trickled to a crawl lately. The movies in this post have been vied over a period of almost months. I’ve been a lot more tired lately and haven’t been staying up as late, but I’m still watching for you, my faithful readers (also because I’m half-addicted to movies, I think). So, here we go:

 

NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008)

I didn’t LOVE Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but I liked it about as much as I thought I would. I’m a sucker for told-in-one-night movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and the like. Plus, this one stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings who is crush-worthy in my book (don’t tell Em). The basic story isn’t all that mindblowing, it’s your basic “two people who are dating other people meet each other, fall for each other, have a few difficulties, but SPOILER get together in the end” flick, but what’s fun for me is in the details. Aside from the solid performances and guest spots by the likes of Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jay Baruchel, I like the New York club setting and the smaller details like Nora’s dad SPOILER owning Electric Ladyland studios. I have no idea if the club/band life the movie puts forward is accurate, but I think the idea of following a mystery band around town to be really cool, though familiar (I can’t quite put my finger on why/where from). I also had music geeksplosions when they went to Electric Ladyland. And, I gotta say, I was surprised that this movie, which is based on a book that I haven’t, but now want to, read not only had a sex scene but also a number of gay characters (oh, and the creepiest stripperish dance scene involving an actual girl that I can remember). I guess teen movies have changed a bit and I think it’s pretty cool.

THE HOUSE BUNNY (2008)

I can’t exactly say The House Bunny surprised me, because, well, I kind of thought I would like it. You’ve got Anna Faris starring in a Fred Wolf (SNL, DIRTY WORK!!!) directed movie that mixes Playboy and sororities on a college campus in which the main point of the flick is to turn nerdy sorority girls (including Kat Dennings, Rumor Willis and Emma Stone) into hot chicks. I’d say that’s a pretty killer combination. And, as far as I’m concerned, it lived up to my expectations. Oh, plus it had Colin Hanks who I haven’t seen in anything but Orange County, but I liked that flick and he’s good in this too. Really, if the above description doesn’t tickle your fancy, you won’t dig this movie. If it does, dive on in and have a good time. I wouldn’t rank it in my top five comedies or anything, but it’s still worth a watch.

ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)

Alien Raiders is one of those movies that makes its way into the Wizard building and somehow found it’s way to my hands, probably because everyone knows I’m the horror guy in the offices. Anyway, I knew nothing about this movie and had absolutely no expectations (in fact, I can’t even remember why I watched this instead of something else like, say, Triloquist, which is in my “to be watched” pile). So, I was pleasantly surprised by this mix of Thing and The Mist (basically, “who’s the alien in a grocery store”). I was surprised with how in to this movie I got (I even put a comic down to watch it). For a much better review than I could give, check out my favorite blog on the web Horror Movie a Day. Also check out the comment section for what will be a now reduntant comment, plus a comment from the screenwriter!

DISTRICT B-13 (2004)

Compared to the rest of these flicks, B-13 here is an oldie, but it’s still a goody. Man, I had a great time watching B-13. It’s directed by the guy who just did Taken which I hear is pretty rad and want to check out. Anyway, the story is set in the near future, something about a ghetto in France where undesirables live. The intricacies of the plot escape me at the moment, but there’s an undercover cop and a crook working together to both get a bomb back and save one of the guys’ sister. The story itself isn’t the cool part though, I was a fan of the action scenes, many of which involved my personal favorite YouTube search of free running (or parkour if you’re nasty, or French). I caught this on Netflix’s amazing instant watch and can’t recommend it more to action fans. Seriously, go check it out NOW.

Okay, hope you enjoyed these brief movie reviews. Look for more trade and movie reviews soon!