The Nix by Nathan Hill (5 out of 5) 

It took me far too long to read this. Allison from work told me it was great a few months ago and I bought the hardcover when it was going back on a return (It is currently available in trade paper back!). I was especially glad given the length of the book…600 some pages. Given my suddenly heavy work schedule, it took me a few days to finish this, but I really got through most of it last night and today, I finished it. Wow! Definitely one of my favorite books this year. Reading it, I had many flashbacks of Michael Chabon’s “The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”. Very similar vibe. Samuel Andresen-Anderson (Dig that name!) is a college professor a few days a week, stalled writer for over ten years, daily player of Elfscape (or as it’s known IRL, World of Warcraft), and mourner of lost love, reknowned violinist Bethany Fall. One incident with a student that he busts for cheating on a paper comes back to haunt him. Not as much as his long disappeared mom, Faye. She’s suddenly all over the news for throwing rocks at a political candidate. She’s facing jail time, being portrayed in the press as a radical hippie once arrested for prostitution, but all Samuel can recall is a loving wife and mother, until she abandoned her family and disappeared into thin air. She needs his help. Samuel is torn, but tried to be a good person and help out his mom. Until the publisher tells him they are suing him for never delivering that book he got the advance for- ten years ago. So they hatch a plot for Samuel to get the scoop on his mom and write a sordid tell-all. Can he go through with it after seeing Faye again for the first time in decades? This book is full of spirit, heart, tenderness, lost love, and the overriding theme of importance of family. Shit is always going to change, as things are constant, but you have to find your center. A lot of the book is not just about Samuel doing so, but also Faye. From Chicago to New York to Norway and beyond, this is the truest tale of embracing your past along with your present, and finding the answers you seek, while making peace with all incarnations of who you are. And humor. A lot of tongue-in-cheek humor lightens the mood here. 

Oh, that title? Norweigan folklore defines a nix as a spirit that steals children away. Loose modern day translation could define it as anything you love that steals your heart and disappears. Yes, we all have them. What we don’t often have is a debut novel that crafts a wonderful story of long lost love and second chances around that and makes the reader Fall in Love with that story. Until now. Nathan Hill has managed that feat. Go get it and read it! 


~ by generationgbooks on July 23, 2017.

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