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Closer All the Time

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The inhabitants of Baxter, Maine, are going nowhere fast—but not for lack of trying. In this deftly written jewel of a novel, veteran author Jim Nichols strings together the bittersweet stories of several different characters bound together by shared geography and the insular nature of small-town life. There's Johnny Lunden, a well-meaning war veteran with a penchant for t ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Islandport Press
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  79 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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Debbie Ann
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: highlyrecommend
If you enjoyed Olive Kitterage, you will love Closer All the Time. Like Elizabeth Strout, Jim Nichols gets under the skin of small town denizens of Maine. He weaves a story through different eyes to show us an entire village. Everyone impacts everyone in small and very big ways. Jim tells stories that at times, on the surface, appear very simple, but as they unfold we discover layers, histories, that inform us, make us realize that our original judgement was plain wrong. No life is simple. Becau ...more
James Fisher
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
My full review of this excellent, down home (or should I say down east) collection of vignettes is here: ...more
Bryan Wiggins
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Multifaceted Story Finds the Perfect Focus for Maine

Life doesn’t follow a script. Neither does this pastiche of small-town lives in Jim Nichols' big-hearted novel. The individual paths and perspectives of this authentic cast of characters create a kaleidoscopic portrait of a people and place that add up to a world so much richer than the sum of its parts. These are people you feel you know, in a place that seems at once fresh and familiar. Masterfully crafted, Nichols’ interwoven tales conspir
Taylor McCafferty
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love character-driven novels, and Closer All the Time delivered. Though this novel is told in vignettes about single characters, each characters' development doesn't stop once their chapter is over. Instead, we get a unique view of not only how the one character sees the world, but how the other characters in Baxter view each other. That is exactly the way to capture a small town like the fictional Baxter, Maine. There is no better way to learn about a place's heart than by getting into the mi ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jim Nichols writes with his heart, or rather, in a soulful way, so you fall for each character, no matter how roughly they treat themselves and others, as is the case of the alcoholic Johnny Lunden who opens the book. The characters and their lives are weaved together, while each of them has a chapter. When we read about the lovely, sensitive Tomi, a teenager, for example, we learn not only about her, but also about Lunden. Our perspective changes a little, becomes more generous, perhaps, as the ...more
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: maine-books
As he did in Hull Creek, Jim Nichols has populated a coastal Maine community with characters who could be our neighbors. He has given us a series of interconnected short stories about the children and adults of the small fictional town of Baxter. The stories take place over the course of a few decades. The residents grapple with how to be part of a family, how to be a friend, how to make their way in the world.

My only quibble with this book is I would have liked to have spent more time with the
Jodi Paloni
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels, maine-writers
Gorgeous! How I loved reading these linked vignettes that held a place I love, Maine, and a time, pre-computer craze, within the tight expanse of simple prose. I ached alongside these characters. I felt the weather. 'Closer All the Time' stands out for how human complexity is rendered in story: simple and relative, and the ever-present landscape. Unforgettable images.
Mimi Brett
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Wonderful characters in small town Maine. Lots of back stories and weaving of characters lives in a time stopping way. I think I have to go back and read some parts again to keep everyone straight though!
Trisha Owens
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Characters are vivid Mainers, Baxter, to be precise, and their lives ebb and flow like the tides, and the river central to its coastal town. Writer has nailed it and kept my wrapt attentions throughout. Highly recommend people read this one!
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars for this wonderful novel- great characters, great stories woven together a la Olive Kittridge - glad I didn't miss this gem!!
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this little gem of a book - a novel set in small-town Maine told through short stories about different characters whose lives are all somehow interconnected. I had a bit of trouble determining the timeline (it’s set “in the years after WW2” but takes place over a few decades...yet there’s not much clarity over what time period each story starts in) and sometimes that got in my way. The stories shift back and forth between 1st and 3rd person, too. Johnny Lunden is at the center, though ...more
R.J. Heller
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
“It all comes down to that fumbling around to find someone. It seems we’re all born with this longing; we’re made to think that someone exists for each of us. So we knock around, dodging various obstacles like bad families and wars and accidents and illnesses, searching and hoping.” With these words, Jim Nichols pieces together in a wonderful nutshell, the essence of his new book, Closer All the Time.

A novel told in a short story format, Nichols deftly stiches characters together in Baxter, Main
Jeannette Ligget
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this book and its backdrop of working class, coastal Maine. The characters are real and believable, their problems familiar. It reminded me of Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool. Author Nichols doesn't avoid the seedier side of life, yet the reader sympathizes, if not empathizes, with the characters. I am a Maine vacationer who sees mostly the lobster and lighthouses side of America's vacationland. But my son is a student at U Maine, and he would recognize this Maine. I must say I like it jus ...more
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Neat idea, but I had a hard time sticking with this one. Did finish it eventually, but the writing style didn't grab me.
Nov 29, 2016 added it
Good at times, boring at others.
Staci Suhy
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free as part of a first reads promotion
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review to come
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Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Life-long Maine kid until October 2020, when we moved to Santa Fe...planning to split time in Maine. Winner of 2016 Maine Book Award for Fiction. Runner-up in 2012. Work published in Esquire, elimae, Portland Monthly, Zoetrope ASE, Narrative, River City, American Fiction, Clackamas Review, paris transcontinental, others...winner of Kurt Johnson Prize for Fiction (2014) and Willamette Fiction Award ...more

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