Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Nathan Hill

By Lynn Willoughby
The Nix ~ Nathan Hill
What to say about this novel? It has moments that make you feel you are part of the action. It makes you better understand the US electoral process and that there have been violent protests for many elections so it seems timely. It is way too long, and has pages and pages of irrelevance to skim over.
In 2011 Samuel sees his mother on TV as she throws rocks at a delegate to the Democratic convention. Samuel is now a university professor in Chicago and hasn’t seen his mother since she abandoned him and his father when Samuel was eleven. “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.”
This novel skips around a lot – from 1968, to Samuel’s childhood, to 2011. But that is not it’s biggest flaw. It is the out of context, out of place, written nonsense on Norwegian ghosts that goes on and on, or what beauty products a girl needs to use to get ready for a date in 1968, or Elves playing online games for days and days that had no business in this book at all. I want a story where I like the the characters (not in this one!) and where the story moves along and there is actually a point to the plot. It is 600 pages long and doesn’t need to be.
As one reviewer said “Derivative when it isn’t bland, preposterous when it isn’t a bore. Why do I keep doing this to myself?” Yup! That’s how I feel too.
  • this is a debut novel
Who Knew?
In August 196810,000 mostly peaceful protesters were met by 23.000 police and National Guardsmen in Grant Park in Chicago. The result was indiscriminate police violence using clubs, guns, tear gas and trucks fronted with razor wire.

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