A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian folklore it is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill's remarkable first novel, a Nix is anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.
It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson - college professor, stalled writer - has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she's reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the Internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: She's facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel's help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye's losses but also his own lost love and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother and himself.
From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores - with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness - the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
©2016 Nathan Hill (P)2016 Random House Audio
"The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it's also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America.... Nathan Hill is a maestro." (John Irving)
"There is an accidental topicality in Hill's debut, about an estranged mother and son whose fates hinge on two mirror-image political events - the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Republican Convention of 2004. But beyond that hook lies a high-risk, high-reward playfulness with structure and tone: comic set-pieces, digressions into myth, and formal larks that call to mind Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad." (New York Magazine)
"Once in a while a novel arrives at the perfect moment to reflect, skewer, and provide context for the world as we know it. This - now - is that novel. A satirical, fast-paced romp through time and space, The Nix is ambitious, wide-ranging, and full of surprises. It gathers force and momentum as it speeds toward the end, where all of its pieces fit together as precisely as a puzzle." (Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train)
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
In an interview about The Nix, Nathan Hill said, "I stuffed it full of every idea I had. It became a repository of things in the world I was mad about, concerned and confused about." Luckily for me as a reader, he was mad, concerned, and confused about college professors and students they have to deal with, plagiarism, MMORPGs, politics, media, mother-son relationships, past deeds that haunt us, and choose-your-own adventure books. At 620 pages it's a big repository, and even though there were times I wished it had been edited down, there were more times that I wished the stories would go on and on. I started listening to The Nix as an audiobook, but know that the hardcover version weighs in at 620 pages because I bought it when I came to the embedded choose-your-own-adventure book. While "You Can Get The Girl!" is not strictly based upon the readers' choices, I loved this, as I have often longed for this format written for adults.
Reviewers that were not as enthralled with this book as I was seemed to think that Nathan Hill was trying to say something about America and how it has evolved/devolved since the sixties, and that may well have been his intention. Rather than look for a message, I simply enjoyed the multiple story lines, full of humor, sadness, satire, details, and thoughts that point out how funny, terrible, and ludicrous life can be (with all them often occurring simultaneously), like this one from Walter Cronkite's mind:
"It's a chilling thought, that politicians have learned to manipulate the television medium better than the television professionals themselves. When old Cronkite first realized this was happening he imagined the kinds of people who would become politicians in the future. And he shuddered with fear."
It's only September, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that The Nix is most likely the best book I'll read this year. Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller, and Ari Fliakos is the perfect narrator.
I love historical fiction, history (especially WWII), rock bios, well-told and interesting fiction, non-fiction, & a bit of fantasy sci-fi.
Once I started I couldn't stop. Funny, endearing, dark and whimsical, there's something for everyone as we travel from the 60s to the 80s and modern day. I just love this book. It has tones of Owen Meaney while wrapping us up in a mystery. And we genuinely grow to care about the characters.
I'm only half through and I'm stopping briefly to let you all know, give The Nix a chance. It's not often I write a review and it's even more rare that I find a book this good. Half through and I'm already sad it's going to have to end as I know it'll be awhile before I find another book like this one.
The narrator, by the way, nails the voices abd brings life to all the characters. Simply superb.
There are plenty of excellent reviews here on audible for this book. As you can see by my lack of stars this wasn't for me. I have just a few thoughts to add here about the book. First, to me, it felt a bit like a collection of creative writing exercises that were just strung together into a book. There wasn't a clear voice that led the reader through this 20+ hour book. At times it almost felt like different writers were at work.
However, most importantly, before you decide on the book do an internet search for interviews done by Hill when the book was published. It is fascinating to hear the author's own words about his work. My biggest take away was that he tried to pack the book with everything that enraged, irritated, frustrated, and infuriated him in life. Put simply, it worked--he succeeded. As a result this "tragicomedy" is all those feelings wrapped up into one very long book.
Hill worried that he would only get to write one book in his life and he wanted to "say it all". I wish he would have had more faith in his writing skill and had said less? Oh, for the want of an editor. Tread carefully.
As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.
Closer to 4.5 stars! I loved this book! It was long but always engaging. I had to know how it all ended and the ending was perfect! It's all about choices and regrets and forgiveness (of self and others) and how it all drives you and enables you to make better ones in the future. It shows what a mess one can make out of life for the dumbest of reasons, but not the corny kinds of reasons that just make for a Laurel and Hardy kind of mess- the kinds you can relate to because you've done the same thing. The author puts you in the head of the characters so you understand their choices and empathize with them so that you care and root for them (or in the case of some, hate them and hope for their downfall). I will definitely be looking forward to the next book from this author! And the narrator, Ari Fliakos, did a fabulous job with the different voices for characters!
Ari Fliakos's narration was outstanding. His rendition of Laura, the college student, was completely hilarious. I listened avidly to the entire book, even taking it with me while I walked the dog, because I couldn't stop listening. It was a wonderful romp, filled with great writing. It put me in mind of Donna Tartt's books. Thank you Nathan Hill, and thank you Ari Fliakos.
I vacillated for days before pulling the trigger on this book - boy, am I glad I did! I laughed out loud, I sympathized with our hero(?) and cheered for the video-game geek! I'm not sure how this book would fare as a "read" book - Ari Fliakos ability to voice each of the characters truly brought them to life. I'm not usually a fan of satire, but this one was a delight!
GO-Team Coach and Energy Worker
I LOVED this long book. I loved dancing back and forth between "my" young adult life of the 60s and today's world: how accurate was it's language and historic flavor.
And the audible rendition was flawless.
There are some "uncomfortable" scenes but the overall experience is great. The narration is perfect and adds to the enjoyment of a story that is as complex as the times and our lives
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