The Nix by Nathan Hall

The premise is great – an apparently deranged,  middle-aged woman throws stones (gravel)  or something at a very conservative presidential candidate.  I really wanted to like this book.   The idea was good and the writing excellent, but somehow it got too long and too cumbersome with all the parts –

The story is far more about this woman’s background from her high school years in the 1960s to the current day than it is about any particular election.  It’s told in 3rd person but partly through her own eyes and partly through the eyes of her son. Also, the story wanders off into the backgrounds of all sorts of people from her college roommate to the judge at her trial and some further afield.   Her son’s current day entanglements are also painstakingly developed but it always felt to me like the author  was having a great time. The threads culminate in what’s happening in the current day and how everything worked together to this end.

The Nix
by Nathan Hall
2016 / 64o pages
read by Ari Flakos 21h  50m
rating –  8:   contemp fiction

It seems that Fay Anderson-Andreson left her husband Henry and son Samuel when the latter was only 11-years old.   He’s now in his late 20s and a professor of English at a college somewhere in Indiana..  One day he gets a phone call from his mother’s lawyer wanting him to write a letter of good character for the judge in the gravel-throwing case.  This sends Samuel on a hunt for his mother and entails her background history.

A great job is done on the characters of Samuel and Faye,  but there are many other characters.   Pwnage, Samuel’s online friend is a young man completely addicted to online gaming.  He’s unemployed and divorced,  but wants to write a novel,  go on a diet and get a life.  Too bad.  And there’s  Bethany, Simon’s “fiancé” who, along with her twin brother,  are  friends since grade school.  Also in the current time frame is Laura, a spoiled, undisciplined and disgruntled student at odds with Simon. .

In addition there are a variety of quirky characters from 1968  when Faye was attending college in Chicago.  There’s  Alice, Sebastian and Charlie Brown as well as Walter Cronkite and  Allen Ginsberg.   There is even a ghostly spirit in this story – a “nisse” brought from Norway by Faye’s father, it now belongs to Faye.  For some reason the story is over-the-top enough in other ways that this just goes with the flow but the whole thing really gets too complex and unwieldy no matter how great the writing.

So why did Faye throw gravel at the Governor? –

A “nix”  is the first person you really love and no one later can compare.

The major theme or idea explored is probably that there is no one “true self” to find and be.  There are instead multiple selves,  each as true as any other,  ready to develop.

Final words – imo, it’s too long due to too many minor character back-stories.  It’s well written but it feels like the author fell in love with his own voice.