“The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. . . . Nathan Hill is a maestro.” —John Irving
A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian folklore, it is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill’s remarkable first novel, a Nix is anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.
It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.
From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Samuel is an underachieving assistant professor of literature at a nothing college outside Chicago who dislikes his students, spends way too much time playing an online fantasy game, got a huge advance for a novel he never wrote, and is pining for the girl he loved when he was eleven. His life is stalled out big time, but he is dragged out of stasis when his estranged mother, who abandoned him when he was eleven and has never been heard from since, makes national headlines for throwing rocks at a Presidential candidate - she is the Packer Attacker! Through a ridiculous series of events, Samuel is tasked with writing his mother's life story, and is forced to investigate her life since leaving him. The Nix is the story of how mother and son came to where they are -- and where they might go from here.
But really, this basic plot description does not begin to do this book justice. Nathan Hill has a dazzling imagination, and the feats of writing that he performs are an absolute...
Wonderful writing; terrible hype from publishers. Can only disappoint a reader. It was a good first book, but the market is insane. I like this writer and will read him again, but as an older person who would NEVER call Walter Cronkite (our GOD of the 60's) "Ol' Cronkite", the naivete of young writers trying to "go big" without the experience is laughable and a little sad. He got some of it right (the heart of the matter) but the depth of the angst of the times was definitely not there, and how could it be? He wasn't either.
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Okay so I'm hanging out on a limb here to say that Nathan Hill has written arguably the best book of at least the summer, if not the year. Big, expansive, and terribly funny he satires everything from politics, to the Internet, to online gaming, and the media. Spanning fifty plus years the story centers on Samuel Andresen-Anderson, an unhappy college professor, struggling writer, and player of 'World of Elfquest'-a vaguely veiled, 'World of Warcraft' game. With his novel deadline now passed, and a publisher ready to sue for breach of contract, he desperately ends up turning to the one person who abandoned him over thirty years ago and is now at the center of the media firestorm for assaulting a conservative governor-his Mother. Despite Hill's book taking place in the sixties before the Democratic convention and in 2011 before the Republican one, Hill's commentary can't help but feel painfully relevant to today such as: "it's no secret that the great American pastime is no longer...
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