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THURSDAY

Nick Hornby must love Nora Ephron: Who else could sit through her romantic stinkers and find inspiration? The author trains his eyes on the minor players—the best friends, the sisters, the Carrie Fishers. They’re the ones who have weight problems, who don’t talk perfect, who aren’t shy. According to Hornby, if we didn’t focus on Tom and Meg in Sleepless in Seattle, we might realize that pal Rob Reiner really needs a record store and a book about that record store and his girlfriends. But what critics—mostly male critics—won’t admit is that the author has made a career of writing beach books for guys: yarns about dudes in Bridget Jones-ish drag. After High Fidelity and About a Boy, it’s easy to spot the Hornby motifs—the rock T-shirts, the generational pangs, the dudes looking for love in all the wrong places. Like Ephron and Bridget author Helen Fielding, Hornby goes for funny and not much else—which means Woody Allen jokes. A lot of Woody Allen jokes. And now with How to Be Good, the author—trying to outdo Fielding—picks Katie Carr, troubled yuppie, as his narrator. With two kids, a touch-by-numbers sex life with her husband, and more than an ounce of fussiness, it sounds as if Carr needs to spin some Liz Phair (180-gram vinyl, let’s hope). Try to find your inner Bridget when Hornby reads at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Jason Cherkis)