The Nix by Nathan Hill

I had heard very good things about this book. All of the reviews were excited, and they’ve already decided to make it into a movie starring Meryl Streep! My mother will probably want to go to that movie, and I will be able to brag that I read the book and feel very smart. Even with the hype, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a great book. I just didn’t care for it too much.

It was a very good book, and I don’t know if I have a lot to say about it? It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, and I think it’s very timely with the election season, but it didn’t really grasp me.

It’s a story about a male writer in his thirties, who’s teaching at a suburban college and feeling very unfulfilled. His mother walked out when he was eleven, and he’s never really gotten over it. Then his mother is in the news fro throwing rocks at a right wing politician. Stuff happens, and he starts off on a quest to learn about his mother. There are sections taking place in the ~modern day~ (2011), when she left in the eighties, and when she was a young woman going to school in Chicago, and got caught up in the 1968 protests of the Democratic National Convention.

There’s some really incredible writing, and some really incredible passages, and it’s all great, but also? I don’t know. This book and I are just not quite on the same wavelength. It’s a little bit too straight and boyish. Still excellent, and I still enjoyed it, but…

I could nitpick the way he writes about this one girl — she’s terrible, and recognizable. I went to school with girls like that, and hated them. But they’re for me to say terrible things about, not male writers. I could get angry about that, and the way he criticizes characters relationship to a World of Warcraft-esque computer game. But it seems like he mostly means well, he’s just a grump.

Some of my favorite parts are during the convention, where he writes from the perspective of recognizable historical figures. It’s interesting to see glimpses of Allen Ginsberg and Walter Cronkite’s roles in shaping the occasion. I also loved the long interlude where he plays with the idea of a chose your own adventure book. It’s really is an interesting well written novel, I just didn’t love it.  

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