The Nix is a novel featuring Samuel Andreson-Anderson, who at age 11 is abandoned by his mother (telling him goodbye in the middle of the night she whispers not to worry), and never hears from or sees her again until 40 years later, when she appears on the nightly news for having thrown rocks at an arch-conservative could-be presidential candidate. Samuel becomes a frustrated college teacher who once got a huge advance on an unwritten novel based on one short story that got him proclaimed as a “best under 40,” and, fifteen years later, he hasn’t written a single word because, well, he’s been too busy playing Elfquest on his computer. There’s an important story element involving his mother and the 1968 Chicago riots, as well as Samuel’s enduring obsession with the childhood girl-next-door, who, while he teeters on the brink, has become a world-renowned concert violinist. The Nix is clever, ambitious, funny, big-hearted, and brilliantly written, and the anticipation of its publication very much reminds me of a time in 1978, just before The World According to Garp was published. -- RH
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