The Nix by Nathan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whew. Have you read this book yet? It's epic. It's Americana. It's really, really, long. It's really, really, good. It's 600+ pages long. I listened to it as an audiobook which took 22 hours. When I tell you that I did not set the time to 1.5 to get through it faster I hope you can understand why I sat through 22 hours of this novel.
The story is broken into multiple pieces. The majority of it surrounds the lives of Faye Andreson and Samuel Andreson-Andreson. Faye abandons Samuel when he is a child and he hasn't heard from her in twenty years when he is approached by a lawyer telling him that his mother has been arrested for assaulting a public official. This leads Samuel and the reader down the rabbit hole of his youth and his mother's youth. Set between the 1960s until what is more or less the present day, the book covers a lot of ground. You'll travel from rural Iowa, to Chicago, to New York, to Norway.
You're taken through Samuel's youth when he makes a new friend, falls in love with a girl, and his mother leaves him in the middle of the night. You go through Faye's high school years and into her tumultuous time at college. You time hop through their lives as told by them and as told by others. The ancillary characters you meet don't just pop in to tell a portion of the story, they end up having stories of their own to tell. Everyone has a distinct and unique voice. You'll be thrust into the minds of a diverse cast including a 20-something lazy entitled and lazy college student, a high powered publisher, a lesbian hippie, a Chicago cop, a MMORPG addict, a solider in Iraq, and many more. In browsing other reviews it seems as though some people actually hated this style of writing. I loved it. I felt it made the landscape of the world the author was building richer.
This novel showcases the interconnectivity of life itself while also serving as an astute political commentary. It mixes old world mythos with new world realism. It reminds us that life is about the journey and not the destination. I say this primarily because I was not happy with the ending for some of the characters. There are some truly atrocious humans in the story that end up having little to no consequences for their actions. I can understand the complaints of loose ends after the story has been finished, but I would argue that life is also like that. Bad people don't always get what they deserve and sometimes people fall out of our lives and we never find out what happened to them.
I sat through 22 hours of audiobook for this one and I'm not sorry I did. The narrator had a unique voice for everyone and it was a testament to the author's ability to make each character detailed and rich. The novel has a Dean Koontz level of detail (you know what I mean), but unlike Koontz? Every detail feels important. Every description is purposeful and doesn't feel superfluous.
From what I've read, it appears that this will become a miniseries. I can't wait to watch.
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