Katie Carr is certainly trying to be good. That’s why she puts up with her husband David, the self-styled “Angriest Man in Holloway.” But one fateful day, she finds herself in a Leeds parking lot, having just slept with another man. What Katie doesn’t yet realize is that her fall from grace is just the first step on a spiritual journey more torturous than the interstate at rush hour.
'Hornby is a writer who dares to be witty, intelligent and emotionally generous all at once'
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'A darkly funny and thought-provoking ride—How to Be Good gleefully distorts what can happen to a relationship when one partner changes and the other must accept it or take a new path. The book examines what it means to be good to oneself, one’s family and the world at large. While this could be sanctimonious fare, Hornby infuses it with wit and a sense of the absurd'
'This is a surprising novel of ideas that balances spiritual, political and familial questions, and it’s an exciting departure for a quietly excellent writer'
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I come home from work and David almost skips out of his office to greet me. 'Look,' he says, and then proceeds to bow at me vigorously, as if I were the Queen and he were some kind of lunatic royalist.
'My back. I don't feel anything. Not a twinge.'
'Did you go to see Dan Silverman?' Dan Silverman is an osteopath that we recommend at the surgery, and I've been telling David to see him for months. Years, probably.
'So what happened?'
'I saw someone else.'
'This guy in Finsbury Park.'
'In Finsbury Park?' Dan Silverman has a practice in Harley Street: There is no Harley Street equivalent in Finsbury Park, as far as I know. 'How did you find him?'
'A newsagent's window? What qualifications has he got?'
'None whatsoever.' Information delivered with a great deal of pride and aggression, inevitably. Medical qualifications belong on my side of the great marital divide, and are therefore to be despised. 'So you let someone completely unqualified mess around with your back. Smart decision, David. He's probably crippled you for 1ife.'
David starts to bow again. 'Do I look like someone who's been crippled?'
'Not today, no. But nobody can cure a bad back in one session.'
'Yeah, well. GoodNews has.'
'What good news?'
'That's his name. GoodNews. Capital G, capital N, all one word. DJ GoodNews, actually. To give him his full title.'
'DJ Not Dr.'
'It's, you know, a clubby thing. I think he used to work in a disco or something.'
'Always useful when you're treating back complaints. Anyway. You went to see someone called GoodNews.'
'I didn't know he was called GoodNews when I went to see him.' 'Out of interest, what did his advert say?'
'Something like, I don't know. "Bad Back? I can cure you in one session." And then his telephone number.'
'And that impressed you?'
'Yeah. Of course. Why mess around?'
I'm presuming this GoodNews person isn't some sort of alternative therapist.' It may not surprise you to learn that David has not, up until this point, been a big fan of alternative medicine of any kind; he has argued forcefully, both to me and to the readers of his newspaper column, that he's not interested in any kind of cure that isn't harmful to small children and pregnant women, and that anyone who suggests anything different is a moron. (David, incidentally, is rabidly conservative in everything but politics. There are people like that now, I've noticed, people who seem angry enough to call for the return of the death penalty or the repatriation of Afro-Caribbeans, but who won't, because, like just about everybody else in our particular postal district, they're liberals, so their anger has to come out through different holes. You can read them in the columns and the letters pages of our liberal newspapers every day, being angry about films they don't like or comedians they don't think are funny or women who wear headscarves. Sometimes I think life would be easier for David and me if he experienced a violent political conversion, and he could be angry about poofs and communists, instead of homeopaths and old people on buses and restaurant critics. It must be very unsatisfying to have such tiny outlets for his enormous torrent of rage.)
'I dunno what you'd call him.'
'Did he give you drugs?'
'I thought that was your definition of alternative. Someone who doesn't give you drugs.'
'The point is, he's fixed me. Unlike the useless NHS.'
' And how many times did you try the useless NHS?'
'No point. They're useless.'
'So what did this guy do?'
'Just rubbed my back a bit with some Deep Heat and sent me on my way. Ten minutes.'
'Two hundred quid.'
I look at him. 'You're kidding.'
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