If you’ve forgotten what a distinct pleasure it is to read Nick Hornby, may I suggest Dickens and Prince, his odd, extended musings on the similarities between Charles Dickens, one of the most-read writers in the English language, and Prince, perhaps the most prolific and listened-to artist of the 20th and 21st centuries? ... Hornby stretches mightily in some cases to make the parallels stick ... But it doesn’t matter if some of his comparisons are sometimes a bit flimsy, because that’s not the point. The point is to be in the company of Nick Hornby, which is always a pleasure. His writing is so quick and generous and conversational and breezy that he could write an entertaining and informative book on the history of mayonnaise. Luckily, he’s chosen two of the most captivating artists of the last 150 years instead.
... really more of an essay ... All this bears out Hornby’s hunch that two artists working 150 or so years apart can have lots in common, but there’s more to Dickens & Prince than mere comparisons. Most important is what their lives and work tell us about creativity, and it’s on this that Hornby is in his element...He writes brilliantly about his wariness of Dickens as a child and his subsequent Damascene conversion as a university student when he discovered the author of Bleak House could actually be funny ... It’s possible that there are Dickens devotees who will bridle at finding Bleak House mentioned in the same breath as the author of songs such as Sex Me Sex Me Not. Equally, some Prince fans may stifle a yawn at finding their mercurial hero compared with a Victorian novelist. But Hornby has no time for cultural hierarchies, treating his subjects as the equals (and kindred spirits) they undoubtedly are. His book is both a love letter to two artists who have nourished him and the story of how they 'caught fire and lit up the world'.