I was pleasantly surprised by The Nix: A novel especially since I nearly abandoned it after 200 pages…this book is the longest work of fiction I can remember reading since Ulysses for my Master’s program!
The various story lines revolve around Samuel, a depressed English professor who was abandoned by his mom decades ago. He has no idea why she left or where she went until she’s on the news for attacking a presidential candidate. The (exaggerated) headline evolves to read “RADICAL HIPPIE PROSTITUTE TEACHER BLINDS GOV. PACKER IN VICIOUS ATTACK.” As his mom faces serious charges, Samuel embarks on an adventure of discovery about her past and his own.
The book included some seemingly bizarre elements, specifically a story line about a video game called Elfscape that Samuel plays. Although initially skeptical, I ended up considering the Elfscape scenes as some of my favorites. In fact, in a waiting room I literally laughed out loud with tears in my eyes at one of Pwnage’s (an Elfscape addict) shopping trips. (My sub-heading above pays tribute to one of my favorite parts – you will understand when you read the book!) And I consider another, later scene from Elfscape as a masterpiece. I hereby nominate Pwnage for a literary Oscar for supporting character!
Interesting elements of historical fiction included the riots of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and cameos by poet Allen Ginsberg. Some other elements were eerily timely: the scary presidential candidate, a phone app called IFeel, and the commentary on a polarized nation.
I found several quote-worthy jewels within the text that I tweeted throughout my reading.
One of my favorites:
“Seeing ourselves clearly is the project of a lifetime.”
And although some editing could have shortened the book a bit, I must say that at the end of 620 pages, I was happy for the experience and did not feel I had wasted my time. And did I mention I love Pwnage?