Book of the Month: September, The Nix
So I want to start doing a monthly ‘Book of the Month’, where I review a book I've been reading this month, that I think is thought-provoking, funny, relatable or I just want to share.
I'm a big reader- I tend to get through a book a week (sometimes a book a day- if I am particularly addicted to it).
I absolutely love reading. I try to do it on the tube, when I'm not listening to podcasts- I love doing it in bed before I go to sleep, I find it very calming. Or, just if I'm having a lazy day at home, it's a nice way to unwind.
I also love reading in parks and open spaces. I like being surrounded by nature- it's very soothing to hear the sound of the grass and the bugs or even just the city go by if you're in a city park. I find it very nice background noise too, when you're reading and getting so involved in a story.
So, I thought I'd kick off by doing one of my favourite books so far this month (or even this year), which has been The Nix by Nathan Hill.
One of my favourite genres, which is quite an obscure genre, I'll admit, is 20th century fiction.
Not necessarily fiction written in the 20th century (that being said, I love books like the Bell Jar and other classic works... yes, even the Catcher In the Rye... could I be anymore hipster?). But the ones I love are books set in the 20th century, especially books spanning a long period of time, that covers the history of it, because I'm a big history nerd.
For example, I was a big fan of Paul Auster's 4321, which is a completely different type of book, but it still covers a lot of 20th century history.
I decided to pick up The Nix when I saw it in a bookshop, adding it too a list on my phone of books I have to read, and then I found it in a charity shop shelf about a month later for £1.50. So, I snapped it up.
Now, The Nix is a story which travels back and forth in time between the modern day, the 70s and even back further too.
I won't give too much away of the plot- obviously- I want you all to go and read it!
However, it follows a young writers' quest to discover his mother's life. It's all centred around an incident with a politician who's very Trump-like, and a protest against him in the present day in which she is involved in. I'm not giving too much away as it happens within about the first 10 pages. Following this, it's about his quest to find out more about her life- the book swerves through different sections in history, whether it's the Vietnam War, the anti-war protests, or the financial crisis. Samuel, the protagonist
is a struggling writer, living off of a once-famous short story. His mother is an enigma really, having run off when he was 11.
It's set in America, and covers various places in America, but mainly around Chicago. I think it's a great look into the city on the whole- you could tell that Nathan Hill has lived there and has insider's knowledge.
I think it builds a beautiful portrait of the city. Furthermore, his characters themselves are very well rounded. The way it's written, you see into the mind of the character, as well as understand their reasons for doing certain actions. There are some not very pleasant characters (shout out to the university student) however you start to understand their psyche. By the way he writes about her, you understand the why she does things. It's about how her parents treated her, for example, or the way the protagonist does things- It's about how he was raised. And you also start to see more sides to one story, which I think is very important, especially when novel reading. It throws up the views of an unreliable narrator and just what is it? Are you unreliable if that's how you thought things happened at the time?
I love how he goes off topic, or so it seems throughout the book- you'll be understanding or reading about one story and it will suddenly delve off topic. You might find yourself going into a 12 page introduction into a World of Warcraft type game. That might seem entirely not to the point, however, it's not only a fantastic metaphor, but also a great explanation of a characters personality through the characters and the choices that they choose in this game.
It's hilarious, it's very touching, and quite complex too.
It's been compared writing style wise to one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Franzen.
He wrote the novel Purity which I loved as well, which is of a similar ilk.
It has many quotable quotes, too. For example, 'When all you have is the memory of the thing', she said, 'All you can think about is how the thing is gone.'
I've also just found out that Meryl Streep is going to star and produce The Nix mini-series with JJ Abrams! I think the stellar quality of Hollywood star and writer that you're going to get with this just shows the calibre of writing and storytelling in the book.
And let's just say the ending packs a real punch. So go, dear readers, and eat your heart out, in this fantastic book.
It's the kind of thing you can get caught up in on a Lazy Sunday afternoon under a blanket with a mug of tea and lose yourself in for hours, and only when you come up for air do you realise how much time has passed while you've been involved in this world with the characters.