The Nix by Nathan Hill, review by Sarah Bagby
Maize High School alum and debut author Nathan Hill is being compared to John Irving. John Irving, after reading Hill's novel The Nix mentioned Charles Dickens and Nathan Hill in the same sentence. Meryl Streep and J.J. Abrams have teamed up to adapt The Nix into a series for Warner Brothers TV. The Nix does not disappoint.
College professor and stalled writer/video game addict Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn't seen his mother Faye since he was a boy in the 1960s. Faye reappears in 2011 after committing an absurd crime blown way out of proportion, spinning Sam's world out of orbit. What follows is an historical, political, big-hearted, funny, and sad psychodrama between a mother and son.
While trying to understand why his mother committed the so-called crime and also just who his mother is, Samuel takes off on a wild ride that includes resurrecting ghosts from the 1968 Chicago riots; life in the suburbs of the Midwest; a stint in New York City; and a backward look to the origins of his mother's ancestry in Norway.
Is his mother really the subversive hippie the media is exposing? Or is she the woman Samuel thinks she was: a regular teen swept off her feet by a regular guy she met in high school?
As Samuel delves into the buried family secrets, his own life is transformed from everything he thought he knew, propelling him into a future he never knew would exist. The Nix is audacious. In Samuel, Nathan Hill has created a complicated and timeless American character of epic proportion.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW. You can listen to it HERE.