THE NIX by Nathan Hill has an interesting cover. This is how we dressed when I was a teenager. This was my time. ( late 1960’s)
The Packer Attacker strikes in late summer 2011. She’s a middle-aged woman who bombards a governor with rocks which really turn out to be just gravel. But it’s an attack and the video goes viral. Who is she really? She’s someone’s mother, that’s who. And that someone is Samuel Andresen-Anderson who has been searching relentlessly for her for twenty years when she walked out of the house never to be seen or heard from again…
THE NIX could be the next great American novel. It’s vast and deals with political satire. Since this is a big election year, it is getting attention. Also, the author has hit the nail on the head, a lot. Nathan Hill spent a big part of his forty years working on this labor of love and wit. And he’s done a good job. Maybe it didn’t have to be so long… Definitely not that. But the entertainment value itself is worth the read.
Samuel Andresen-Anderson finds out about this attack when the phone rings and his mother’s lawyer is on the other end. He’s got a question for Samuel. Now, keep in mind that Samuel has no idea where his mother is, let alone that she has just committed a crime and is in big trouble. So when he is asked to be a character witness for his mother who he has not seen or heard from since he was eleven, he freaks out.
When Samuel finds out he is going to be sued by his publisher, he decides to go to his mother and question her about everything. After all, he’s still curious, but he needs to make the money he is being offered for this information. You see, his publisher has decided to extend him credit if he gives his name and info to the next big book which would be all about the story behind the Packer Attacker: told by the son. ( Samuel never wrote the book he promised the publisher and that is why he is being sued. )
There are chapters about the video game Samuel and one other insignificant character play. I found myself even confused at first. But ended up mainly skimming over these parts. I know my adult sons love these games and would enjoy this, but, not me. I found it to be a bit distracting, actually. I missed none of the important parts.
So this is a mother/son saga of sorts. It’s a saga alright. It takes us all over the place, even to Norway where Samuel’s grandfather was from. And the title name Nix is explained. We discover that Faye’s family ghost has crippled her future.
In this election year we are experiencing all the crazy that goes along with it, and then some. In THE NIX we live through the Chicago protests of 1968. I remember those. Too well. The hippie unrest. Peace and love. Drugs and drop outs. I lived through this era and Hill has done a good job of capturing it.
This smart satiric novel has its moments of greatness. And it can be very witty. However, Hill has crammed into every nook and corner every single thing he seemingly ever knew or wanted you to know. It’s too much. But it’s smart.
I’m not sure the end is worth the means, though. Still, I’m really glad I read it and will be bringing it on my lectures this season. Good one for discussion.
Faye does have one very important thing to say: ” The things you love the most can hurt you the most.” Period.
My finished hard copy of THE NIX by Nathan Hill arrived from Knopf publishing in exchange for an honest review. I really liked the book. I think Mr. Hill has great potential. I look forward to his sophomore attempt. Nathan Hill will be at Barnes & Noble in Naples, Florida ( where he resides) Monday, September 19, at seven in the evening to sign and discuss his new novel.