The Nix by Nathan Hill

As an English professor in a po-dunk community college who dreams of being a serious writer, I can surely relate to the hapless Samuel Andresen-Anderson, even having tangled with a few Laura Potstam “wannabes” myself. Luckily, none of them had her wherewithal.

I found much to admire in this book, although Hill’s political ranting sometimes wore thin even while the satire struck uncomfortably close to home. The story’s movement focused more around events than the characters. Even Samuel and Faye seemed one-dimensional; we never get a deep understanding of any of them, really.

The Poneage character, for all of his ridiculousness, was actually close to being my favorite. He was really quite astute as he advises the hapless Samuel that all people can be divided into the following categories: “Enemies, obstacles, puzzles, or traps.” Poor Henry, the sad-sack father/husband, never develops into more than a shadow. The biggest shortcoming, I felt, was that we never see any of his issues resolved. And the entire Guy Periwinkle affair was just incredibly preposterous and unbelievable.

The story arc of Sam and Bishop brought to my mind the much better book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

The most notable quote from the book, “The things you love the most will one day hurt you the worst” exemplifies a “Nix”. Of course, that does resonate; however, I found that the very last chapter of the book contained the quote that really resonated with me. “Sometimes a crisis is not really a crisis at all, just a new beginning. . . if a new beginning is really new it will feel like a crisis. Any real change should make you feel at first, afraid. If you’re not afraid of it, it’s not real change.”

*Note: I listened to the Audible version of the book, to which I attribute the misspelling of any names.



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