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Publisher's Summary

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 reappeared, 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.
©2016 Nathan Hill (P)2016 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

" 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)
"There is an accidental topicality in Hill's debut, about an estranged mother and son whose fates hinge on two mirror-image political events - the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the Republican Convention of 2004. But beyond that hook lies a high-risk, high-reward playfulness with structure and tone: comic set-pieces, digressions into myth, and formal larks that call to mind Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad." ( New York Magazine)
"Once in a while a novel arrives at the perfect moment to reflect, skewer, and provide context for the world as we know it. This - now - is that novel. A satirical, fast-paced romp through time and space, The Nix is ambitious, wide-ranging, and full of surprises. It gathers force and momentum as it speeds toward the end, where all of its pieces fit together as precisely as a puzzle." (Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Bonny on 09-13-16

Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller.

In an interview about The Nix, Nathan Hill said, "I stuffed it full of every idea I had. It became a repository of things in the world I was mad about, concerned and confused about." Luckily for me as a reader, he was mad, concerned, and confused about college professors and students they have to deal with, plagiarism, MMORPGs, politics, media, mother-son relationships, past deeds that haunt us, and choose-your-own adventure books. At 620 pages it's a big repository, and even though there were times I wished it had been edited down, there were more times that I wished the stories would go on and on. I started listening to The Nix as an audiobook, but know that the hardcover version weighs in at 620 pages because I bought it when I came to the embedded choose-your-own-adventure book. While "You Can Get The Girl!" is not strictly based upon the readers' choices, I loved this, as I have often longed for this format written for adults.

Reviewers that were not as enthralled with this book as I was seemed to think that Nathan Hill was trying to say something about America and how it has evolved/devolved since the sixties, and that may well have been his intention. Rather than look for a message, I simply enjoyed the multiple story lines, full of humor, sadness, satire, details, and thoughts that point out how funny, terrible, and ludicrous life can be (with all them often occurring simultaneously), like this one from Walter Cronkite's mind:

"It's a chilling thought, that politicians have learned to manipulate the television medium better than the television professionals themselves. When old Cronkite first realized this was happening he imagined the kinds of people who would become politicians in the future. And he shuddered with fear."

It's only September, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that The Nix is most likely the best book I'll read this year. Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller, and Ari Fliakos is the perfect narrator.

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97 of 112 people found this review helpful


By Karen Jones on 01-20-17

I tried. I really really tried

Would you try another book from Nathan Hill and/or Ari Fliakos?

When Audible proclaimed this book as the most popular of 2016, I went right for it. I really like the beginning with Samuel and Rachel dueling it out about a failing grade. But then characters entered the book, and had little scenarios with the author. Then characters came in and had scenarios with the other characters. I kept waiting for the book to pull together so that the circles of people coalesced into some, any, shared purpose. Instead the book turned into one continuous set of short stories, with random characters interacting, moving the small plot forward inch by agonizing inch.

I got 13 hours into it before calling it quits - which is a big commitment for a book I liked less and less as the chapters went on. Once again I used my criteria - "Do I care if most or any of the characters die on the next page?". Nope, after 13 hours they should have died a lot sooner.

What could Nathan Hill have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Edited it by quite a bit. Maybe a 300 page book would have told the story more succinctly, and more successfully. Did he have an editor?

Which character – as performed by Ari Fliakos – was your favorite?

Interestingly enough shallow Rachel. Her observation about life as it was given her, her struggles to live that life in a real world, and her doubts about which is true. Alright, I don't wish Rachel was dead, I would like to know what the author did for her.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Nix?

Scenes upon scenes upon scenes that did not move the plot forward or did not develop one of the many character's plight.

Any additional comments?

Better luck next time

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35 of 41 people found this review helpful

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