03/07/2012 04:44 pm ET

Nick Hornby Gives Advice On Amazon, Money And Sex

The following is an excerpt from "Care To Make Love In That Gross Little Space Between Cars?: A Believer Book of Advice" [Vintage, $14.95]

Dear Nick:
What, in your opinion, is the best song for lovemaking?

Claire and Judd

Dear Claire and Judd:
There isn’t one best song, of course. There are two. For common or garden-, post-TV sex, “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones is the one. It lasts a little over two minutes, and “Hey! Ho! Let’s go” is a very useful opening chant, especially if you two have just started dating. The rhythm is good, too! If it’s a scented-candle anniversary extravaganza, then you need Yes’s prog-rock classic “Yours Is No Disgrace.” My sexual partners have always appreciated the confidence-boosting title, which is helpfully repeated over and over in the chorus, and at over nine minutes, the song allows you to get through pretty much every sexual position ever invented, and still leaves you time for a smoke.



Dear Nick:
Can you please explain how the Amazon ranking system works?

David Carle
Estacada, OR

Dear David:
Say you have published a book. Well, if you look it up on Amazon, the ranking system will tell you how good it is, compared with all the other books that have ever been published. Glenn Beck’s The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, for example, is, at the time of writing, the fifth greatest book ever written; Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, by contrast, ranks at 15,441. (Mr. Roth should think about that, and learn from his mistakes, but that’s not our concern here.) I say “at the time of writing” because people are writing great books every second of every day, so there is a chance that Glenn Beck will have slipped a bit by the time you read this. And a chance that Philip Roth will have climbed in the rankings. I doubt it, though.

I don’t know you, David Carle, and I’m not going to do any research. But if you have written a book, I’m guessing that it’s not as good as The 7, but it is better than American Pastoral. This is true of a lot of books, more than fifteen thousand of them.



Dear Nick:
I make very little money and live below the nation’s poverty line, but I feel wealthy in my heart. Does this make me an idiot?

N. Lowen Ann Arbor, MI

Dear N.:
You are either an idiot or you are pathologically lazy. One of the glories of the U.S.A., it seems to me, is that people who say things like, “I feel wealthy in my heart,” and give every appearance of believing it, can simply write the sentiment down in a book and make a ton of money. (If they can’t be bothered to write it down in a book, they can write it down in a movie script or in a song. The end result—an unstoppable flow of dollars—is the same.) You can’t do that in Europe. Does “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” sound like an American song title to you? That’s how we make our money: by whining and complaining.

So the big question is, why haven’t you written a book called Wealthy In My Heart, and become wealthy in your bank? Because you’re idle and/or dumb— that’s why. You have an added advantage: you come from a place that nobody has ever heard of, and where nobody wants to go. So if you really have achieved an inexplicable inner peace, people will totally buy into it.



Dear Nick:
Okay, let’s put this matter to rest already! Who in the hell killed Kennedy?


Dear Anonymous:
I am from the UK, where we have our own problems, so it came as an awful shock to me to hear that President Kennedy had been killed—murdered, in fact, as I understand it.

We are sorry for your loss, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you at this difficult time. Or we would have done this, if only we’d been paying more attention.

In an attempt to answer your question, however, I have done some Googling (which you could have done for yourself, to be honest). Anyway, the answer is that Carlos Mar-cello, Santo Trafficante, Jimmy Hoffa, Guy Banister, David Ferrie, Carlos Bringuier, Clay Shaw, Antoine Guerini, Lucien Sarti, Lyndon B. Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, Clint Murchison Jr., Haroldson L. Hunt, E. Howard Hunt Jr. (no relation), Joachim Joesten, Bobby Baker, Jack Ruby, J. D. Tippit, Bernard Weissman, Nikita Khruschev, Frank Sturgis, Johnny Roselli, Sam Giancana, Gerry Patrick Hemming, Lee Harvey Oswald, Edward Lansdale, Fidel Castro, George Hickey, Eladio del Valle, and Elvis Presley killed Kennedy. This seems bang on to me, although I am perplexed by the absence of women from this list. A couple of the women I know could assassinate a president without even feeling bad for a second. I’m pretty sure a woman would have been involved—probably Yvonne de Carlo, who played Lily Munster in the TV series made shortly after the assassination.