Novel Review: ‘The Nix’ by Nathan Hill

By Jesse Stayer

“(Nathan Hill)… seems incapable of writing a pedestrian sentence or spinning a boring story,” writes Teddy Wayne of The New York Times.

First-time author Nathan Hill is shaking up the writing world with his 600+ page tome, “The Nix,” which hit bookshelves in August. Fashionably late to the party, I picked up this seemingly too-good-to-be-true novel. It is not too often book reviews are so reflective of how I feel as a writer —especially from an author who has never been given a rostrum before. Hill has already been compared to so many of the greats from critics across the globe. These writers so far include, but are not limited to, Michael Chabon, Thomas Pynchon, Donna Tartt, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Wolfe and even John Irving — who he himself likens Hill to Charles Dickens.

This has caused so many reviewers to call “The Nix” by order, Dickensian. Which given the nature of this novel makes absolute sense, as this novel truly has it all. We follow our protagonist, Professor Samuel Anderson, an author with serious writer’s block and even more severe mommy issues. Samuel’s mother, Faye, abandoned him as a child and has reappeared on every TV screen and newsstand across America as “The Packer Attacker,” after stoning a presidential candidate who bears absolutely no semblance to Donald Trump.

The story takes readers from the 1968 Chicago Riots to the 2011 Occupy Movement — from a professor’s office hours to an online dungeon raid. Hill’s novel is gregarious, allowing for company of all sorts to pick it up and dwell in its charm. millennials will understand just as well what Hill is telling a Boomer, as “The Nix” spans generations.

It is also a tin can telephone between students and teachers. Hill, having been an English professor himself, draws a line right across the classroom creating two fractured halves and with pain blends them, without ever being truly sanctimonious. “The Nix” comes as a highly recommended read, which is sure to please.

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