Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mislaid” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.29  ·  Rating details ·  5,983 ratings  ·  920 reviews
Stillwater College in Virginia, 1966: Freshman Peggy, an ingénue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The couple are mismatched from the startshes a lesbian, hes gaybut it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Ecco
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mislaid, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mislaid

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,983 ratings  ·  920 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mislaid
Always Pouting
I really enjoyed the writing in this book and the plot line was interesting but I think that Zink really lost out by transitioning to the future where Karen and Temple end up at university and she just so happens to run into Byrdie. I was enjoying the book when it was just about Peggy trying to figure out herself and how she fit into a society where she didn't feel comfortable on the expectations put on her as a female. I also liked the way sexuality was represented fluidly. I just couldn't get ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This novel is so smart, almost too smart for it's own good. There are times when it is clear the writer is simply enamored with her wit, to hell with anything else. But oh this is a damn fine read. So much to chew on. True absurdist comedy. The race stuff is a bit off kilter but not distressingly so. Really liked this book.
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Nell Zink has been the recipient of an extraordinary amount of media hype recently, some of it quite fawning. From the reviews, opening her second novel, Mislaid, you would expect something eccentrically brilliant, witty, challenging, subversive. I didnt feel it lived up to those expectations at all. The quirkiness is all pretty contrived and superficial, and beneath the surface hipnicity (I borrowed that term from the Washington Post review), its actually rather soft-centered and arch and in ...more
Ron Charles
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Mislaid, indeed. The title of Nell Zinks new novel is just the first wry, indecorous joke in this zany-brainy story about a teenage lesbian who sleeps with a gay man. Zink writes with such faux innocence that her subversive cracks about sexuality and race detonate only after she has riffed off to the next unlikely incident. If youre easily offended or confused, mislay this book and go back to All the Light We Cannot See.

Few fiction writers break out in their 50s, but Zink, who was raised in
Dec 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015
If you told me this author has literally never interacted with an actual human being in her entire life, I would believe you.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-quit
Sort of flat. I see why Franzen endorses it.
Jun 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
After I finished Mislaid by Nell Zink, I read nearly every review I could find trying to discern why this novel was being lauded when I couldnt figure it out myself. Read more. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I had been meaning to read Nell Zink for a while but when this novel was longlisted for the National Book Award, I moved her up in my list. She didn't make the shortlist but I still wanted to read it.

I should also say that I read this book despite the Jonathan Franzen endorsement quote on the cover. Carry on.

The novel starts out at a small women's college in rural Virginia in the 1960s. Peggy, a young woman who has always been drawn to the masculine side of her own sexuality, ends up having an
lucky little cat
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: humanities TAs and other tweedy academic types
Recommended to lucky little cat by: New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015
Eh, Nell Zink's making southern gothic a little gothicker. A smothered, eclipsed child-wife of an alcoholic, closeted
Holy shades of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Batman

professor-poet would be commonplace as a southern gothic heroine.

So Zink makes her heroine a lesbian creative writing student whose career is waylaid (and sexual orientation hijacked) by an intermittently bi alcoholic serial-seducing poet-professor. Yep, he's definitively bi, and in contrast she's painted more dismissively as merely
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2016
The ascendancy of Donald Trump has resulted in many outsiders peering more intently than ever at the socio-political framework of America, looking for cracks and knotholes. In this regard, Nell Zinks second novel seems almost prescient. Of course, written and published well before Trump, Mislaid is nevertheless aimed like a lance at the boil of gender/race/class discrimination festering in the American body politic.

The plot reads like a soap opera: lesbian student falls for gay poetry lecturer,
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2015
Much was made of the fact that Franzen recommended Zink and her books to the world, but Im glad I read 'Mislaid' regardless. You must know they are nothing alike and Franzen could sit and think for 20 years and he wouldnt come up with anything nowhere near this zany and inventive. I heard that they just bonded over birds.

I suppose you can say Mislaid is an attempt at The Great American novel. All that will damn you in America is there: race, gender, and poverty. It explains everything so
Sara Batkie
Half of a good book, I think. I enjoyed the early going but then I have a soft spot for campus novels so I was a bit nonplussed when it switched gears a few chapters in, launching into a shambling commentary of race, sexuality, and America's modern coming of age. But for all the hi-jinks, it started to get pretty rote, at least for me, who needs either lyrical language or compelling characters to get invested and Mislaid comes up short in both respects. I think Zink has a masterpiece in her ...more
Larry H
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'd rate this 2.5 stars.

Hmm. This book was definitely intriguing.

Peggy Jackson grew up in Virginia in the 1960s, a girl of some means raised by parents with more of an eye on social niceties and appropriateness than actual parenting, especially when she realizes she is a lesbian. She convinces them to send her to Stillwater College, a small, all-girls school, where she can pursue her dreams of literary success, and perhaps find a girlfriend. They are none too happy to send her away.

But it isn't
Booklover, Indianapolis
(Jan) It's rare I give a book 1*. While I love to read, I don't have any pretensions that I could sit down and write a book. Usually I give the author credit for putting pen to paper and making a story come out, even if I don't like it. This one, however...well, you ever read a book and finish it and think to yourself "WTF did I just read?!!" I honestly don't understand how this got published. When I think of how many struggling authors send in manuscripts to publishing houses hoping to rise ...more
Hm. Okay. Well...
If Faulkner wrote an unfinished manuscript based on a lost, unfinished comedy of Shakespeare, then Jonathan Franzen discovered this twice-lost Shakespearian/Faulknerian draft, cleaned it up a bit, and made notes toward a screenplay adaptation that John Waters finally completed and directed - then the end result might look something like this book. It is a kind of snappy Southern dysfunctional family madcap farce that plays around with sexuality, race, and class and is rife with
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this in a First Reads giveaway! with thanks to Harper Collins Australia and Goodreads.

This was not even remotely what I was expecting; all the reviews of The Wallcreeper led me to believe that Zink's style must be completely inaccessible and uncompromising and not one bit fun at all. But I laughed out loud a few times during this. Oh no! I have to interrupt myself here because while thinking about Zink's style I suddenly flashed onto A Confederacy of Dunces which I read about twelve years
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a writer Nell Zink is equivalent to a mother who slips vegetables into her kids desserts. She gives a lot of sweet of fluffy goodness with a strong heap of what's good for us (intellectual puzzles and social commentary). Mislaid is a comedy of errors that much resembles Elizabethan theater as well the theater of the absurd.

Written as what the author calls "agent bait," Zink's premise for this novel is simple and strange: lesbian woman marries gay poet from the South. She tires of his repeated
[2.7] Mislaid is like a sitcom with offbeat characters and clever writing. Listening to Cassandra Campbell's excellent narration was a breeze. Unfortunately, the novel is thin on substance and plot. There is a lack of momentum. The cleverness grew tedious. If I had mislaid this book in the middle, I probably wouldn't have bothered to search for it.
Jul 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was misled by a glowing NYTimes review into reading this. The story is a mess and as it unravels, the prose gets more cliched and lazy. The portrayal of race and poverty is superficial.
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could come up with an accurate string of letters to form a giggle, because the subversive nature of this book makes me do just that- giggle! Laugh outright in parts. So freaking clever while shooting a tall, proud middle finger to the southern sensibilities it shines a glaring light on. (I am a left-coaster, and one of those so called liberal elites[does that label mean I am liberal and intelligent?, If yes I'll take it!!], but I am southern born to southern parents and I related to a ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nell Zink is a latter-day Thomas Pynchon without the paranoid conspiracy theories. Her take on offbeat lives lived on the margins is hilariously insouciant. Her sentences zing with brilliance; her economical prose is both refreshingly feminist and cheerfully optimistic. If realism is a summary of collective miseries, Zink is an anti-realist. Her characters shine in the glow of their own uniqueness, affected by the larger movements of society but not afflicted by them. This novels ...more
Conor Ahern
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nell Zink! Please write more!

I loved this book. As others have said, it's very smart. Weird, but smart. Zink hints at all sort of Southern taboos and secrets in this short novel, but her masterful blending of the idiosyncrasies of the worlds of both the tony and peckerwood South--how charming that various characters opine that rabbit fur coats hardly connote wealth and that "If you left white people alone, they would put crawfish in a blender" in the same novel!--perhaps suggests a mixed
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Bailed only a couple chapters in. Much too snarky for my taste, or at least this month. Not even Laurence Bouvard - the narrator who made The Portable Veblen come so alive - could redeem this one in my ears.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american-lit
Zink's The Wallcreeper was one of the best novels I read this year, which is a lot to live up to and not something 'Mislaid' can equal. It is a funny and original piece of writing, but doesn't sustain the same brilliant tautness and balance of sincerity and irony. The story is of a troubled, divided family in 1960s and 70s America and includes some wonderful set pieces, mainly involving drugs. From the courtroom denouement onwards, though, the narrative seemed more like a play and thus didn't ...more
I loved this madcap novel. It was funny and free. The plot is simple: a young lesbian and a gay professor fall for each other, marry, and have a son and daughter. The idyll goes downhill. She faces the drudgery of an unloved housewife without a creative outlet while he traipses around with his gay poet friends. So she takes off with Mireille, the girl, and the son, Byrdie, stays with his father.

The mother and her blonde daughter are soon passing as black as a way to lie low in rural Virginia.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Set in 1966, at the campus of Stillwater College, Mislaid tells the story of Peggy. A freshman with literary aspirations, Peggy finds herself falling for Lee, a poet and one of her professors. Peggy falls pregnant and the two end up married. The only problem is, Peggy identifies herself as a lesbian and Lee as gay. This turns into some wry joke; they are an odd couple that has been mislaid.

Nell Zink takes it upon herself to explore the complex issue of sexuality with a mismatched pair stuck in a
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
[3.5, but rounded up]

Mislaid is a complicated novel, but I was so delighted to see that it had more of a structured narrative than The Wallcreeper did. I don't even know how to describe it. A gay professor and a lesbian student bone a lot, get married, have two kids, then the wife runs away, taking her little girl with her. To hide from her husband, Peggy/Meg and her daughter take up the identities of two deceased African Americans and live in poverty passing as black despite being very white.
Like a cross between Jonathan Franzen and Jane Bowles that I never knew I needed! And on the subject of things I never knew I needed, I loved the shit out of this being set in Virginia. So few books are set in Virginia, or this Virginia (or maybe they exist but I don't read them) and it gave me a warm surprise feeling, especially with the gayness also. Not really sure about some of the race parts, but trying to address racism maybe imperfectly seems better than taking the safe ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
This book tricked the shit out of me. Everything I read about it told me I would like it. But it took me 2 days to read 100 pages and I still cannot get into it. It's not what I hoped it would be. I think I've finally quit reading it. It was hard for me to be honest enough to do that, because every time I try to put it down I take another look and say, 'but it sounds so great! Maybe you're wrong. Try, try again." But Jesus Christ, I can't force myself to sit down with it anymore.
Michael Livingston
Apr 11, 2015 rated it liked it
A bizarre and sometimes hilarious novel that defies description. The writing is witty and sharp and the characters pop off the page, but the experience of reading it is a little baffling - there are points about race, sexuality and class being got at, but I think some slipped past me in all the zaniness.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Flamethrowers
  • The Topeka School
  • American Innovations
  • What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era
  • Outline
  • Weather
  • Asymmetry
  • The Things They Fancied
  • Trust Exercise
  • How Should a Person Be?
  • Dept. of Speculation
  • On the Water
  • Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble
  • Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism
  • Inventing Human Rights: A History
  • Real Life
  • The Healing
  • 10:04
See similar books…
Born in California in 1964, Nell Zink was raised in rural Virginia, a setting she draws on in her second novel, Mislaid. She attended Stuart Hall School and the College of William and Mary. In 1993, while living in West Philadelphia, Zink founded a zine called Animal Review, which ran until 1997.

Zink has worked as a secretary at Colgate-Palmolive and as a technical writer in Tel Aviv. She moved to

Related Articles

From independent presses, to tales in translation, to critical darlings and new debut novels, these books (all published in the U.S. this year)...
60 likes · 12 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“College girls on the road! One-night stands! Lee felt like an Austro-Hungarian emperor attended on his deathbed by flappers. He felt them stealing his life—literally going back in time and taking, through their incoherent lifestyles, the little he had struggled so hard to attain.” 3 likes
“Fatherhood surprised him pleasantly. As a male he assumed no unpleasant duties would accrue to him. He would be responsible for teaching the child conversational skills once it reached its teens.” 3 likes
More quotes…