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Doxology: A Novel

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  40 reviews

Pam, Daniel, and Joe might be the worst punk band on the Lower East Side. Struggling to scrape together enough cash and musical talent to make it, they are waylaid by surprising arrivals—a daughter for Pam and Daniel, a solo hit single for Joe. As the ‘90s wane, the three friends share in one another’s successes, working together to elevate Joe’s superstardom and raise bab

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Ecco
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  154 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
It’s an achievement in itself to write a political/family novel that features strange lo-fi anti-folk nerd bands from lower Manhattan and that I still don’t like: This meandering tale introduces us to an American family where the parents have roots in the musical counterculture, but then flourish in the tech upper middle class, while their millennial daughter tries to help save the environment by becoming a political activist. So yes, Zink apparently tries to reflect society and changing attitud ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
The book blurb gives most of the details of what happens in Doxology. Joe, Pam and Daniel meet and form a band, Pam and Daniel have a baby (Flora) and Joe’s music career takes off. We follow the three of them (four when Flora arrives) until 11 September 2001 when tragedy strikes both New York and the trio on the same day. Getting to this point is effectively the first third of the book and is, in truth, much like many of the other novels that track groups of friends living in New York. I feel li ...more
Ron Charles
“He started playing ukulele soon after his mother died.”

Even blindfolded, I would know that is a sentence by Nell Zink. That subtle intersection of the ordinary and the absurd is her trademark maneuver. Wit ricochets around her straight-faced sentences like marbles in a can. Every funny phrase sounds tossed off under her breath, an irreverent little prize for the attentive reader.

Even the facts of her life sound slightly surreal. For a few years she produced a zine about punk musicians and their
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nell Zink has proved herself to be one heck of a writer in the past, but I must admit that Doxology, her fourth novel, was not as compelling as I had anticipated. That said, it still very much packs a punch it just isn't as original an idea as her other books. It's really a tale of two halves with the first half detailing Joe, Dan and Pam's lives and the time in which they grew up. The second half focuses on Pam and Dan's daughter Flora and her coming of age in a divided America. Joe, Dan and Pa ...more
Chris Haak
I loved Mislaid and Nicotine by Zink, and even though I did like the first half of Doxology, in the second half it all got out of control. There were two different novels in one here really and I definitely preferred the first one (the story of Pam, Daniel and Joe and their music and friendship). The second part had way too many themes (Trump/politics, the environment/climate change, pregnancy/abortion/fatherhood/relationships, rich vs poor) and these were just ticked off (and on with the next.. ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nell Zink’s new novel is a multi-generational, time-expansive novel covering the last 40 years or so of American history, music and politics. The first ‘part’ covers the period up to the September 11th attacks, as three friends - Pam, Daniel and Joe - get involved in the music/punk scene in New York and Joe, a simple soul really, somehow contrives to become a music superstar. The second ‘part’ of the book – it’s not really divided as such, but the enormity of the 9/11 events makes it obvious the ...more
Maarten Hepp
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally loved this book!
I felt very connected to Pam, the main character, who is my age and with whom I share quite some (musical) interests, as well as to her daughter Flora.
I am strongly recommending this!
Chris Roberts
Aug 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
9/11 isn't a sacred, digit based religion,
it's an X on the calendar,
an X marks the spot where you died,
four Xs in the sky, descending miles high.


Chris Roberts, God Incontrovertible
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Vix Standen
It’s hard to follow a complex family like this over such a huge time span, and their tales were tricky to keep up with at times. But I enjoyed the ride & appreciated being to relate to many current events, such as Trump’s presidency and, further back, 9/11.
3.5 stars.

The beauty of art is that it’s subjective, entirely what you make of it. Look at a painting from afar and it may appear as nothing more than splatter. But move closer, take it all in. Your perspective may change as certain layers begin to reveal themselves. What at first could’ve been dismissed as erratic or lacking aesthetic may actually be quite beautiful, provocative.

On the other hand, maybe it was and always will be complete and utter bullshit. I suppose my point is that all art d
Tammy V
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just noticed that the stars define themselves as you roll over them - I think I've overrated some books.

Doxology: a usually liturgical expression of praise to God (Merriam Webster). I have no idea how this pertains to this book.

The first noticeable thing about this story is the short sentences delivered like bullets or perhaps oneliners for a standup comedian (that kind of rhythm). The *whole* book. It is wearisome when I notice the writing in a book instead of being drawn into the story. It
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
New York pre-9/11. Pam, Daniel and Joe lead the life of a more or less successful punk band. They live their dream, not much money coming in, but they can do what they like to. They are happy and luck is on their side when Pam accidentally falls pregnant and Joe has a hit single. Despite his success, Joe spends most of his time with young Flora, his simple but caring mind is the best that could happen to the girl. With the attacks on the World Trade Center, everything changes for this small comm ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There's not much you can do when someone chooses the wrong life partner," states a character flatly toward the end of this novel- and that seems to be the main life lesson to take away from Nell Zink's family saga that spans 35 years and the I-95 corridor.

But since it's a Zink story, so there are plenty of other artistic, political, and ethical ironies to mull over as she attempts to account for the societal changes that influence family relationships and how they impact the way two women (one
William Koon
I have an admiration for Nell Zink, have read all of her work and enjoyed them in varying degrees. I looked forward to Doxology. And I enjoyed that as well, in parts.

It’s a big book, sprawling in fact. Her knowledge and use of rock and roll is amazing, probably some of the very best in contemporary fiction. But she is seduced by the now#2. That is anything that has been written about politics, sexual identity, feminism, you name it, it’s here, in spades.

She writes of a world of privilege and sn
This is a generational book, that covers the late 1980's to today. Pam is the main focus, for the first part, a young rebellion who leaves her hometown of Washington DC as a senior in high school to do "art" in New York City. Along the way she stumbles into a coding job and two life-long male friends for life. One, Daniel, becomes the father of her child. It's years before she reunites with her parents, but they end up being important . The child Flora becomes the focus of the later part of the ...more
Julia O'connell
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
[Contains spoilers]
This novel is, at best, wildly overrated. I picked it up after reading a rapturous review, spurred by nostalgia for what promised to be a paean to the punk rock scene in my old hometown in the decades prior to 9/11. The book turned out to be peopled almost exclusively with privileged mercenary types, whose salient character trait is the ability to make bad choices and come out ahead. Everyone speaks in repartée; there is some beautiful lyrical writing, mostly about place, buri
Doxology is a novel about two generations of an American family, moving from early 90s punk rock to the present day political world. Pam, Daniel, and Joe are trying to be in a band in New York City, but when Joe gets some solo success and Pam and Daniel are going to have a child, things don't work out quite as expected. Joe looks after baby Flora whilst chasing rock stardom and Pam and Daniel work to afford rent. And then, as Flora grows up and 9/11 happens, more changes come, and eventually she ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doxology has a lot going on- possibly too much at times. Following a single family across generations is a big job but handled with some degree of skill by the author tying things together with music, politics and world events. Having an interest in all of these subjects I found this book very enjoyable but did feel that it could get bogged down in socio- and political commentaries. Even the family surname, perhaps as a tongue in cheek joke, translates to 'freedom'. As the country and so too the ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started off so well and I really enjoyed the first half, but the second half was far less interesting and it lost momentum. In the first half we meet Pam, husband Daniel and their friend Joe, who has Williams Syndrome, and we follow their close if somewhat unusual friendship. Born in the late 60s they embrace the music scene and Joe becomes quite the rock star. The book casts a satirical eye on the music industry and on pop culture in general, and on the hedonistic drug-fuelled rock star li ...more
Sadhbh O'Sullivan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassie (book__gal)
This was my first time reading Nell Zink and I see now why she has such a cult-following: her writing style is this wonderful mix of intellect, wit, and sharpness. Doxology’s voice tells, it doesn’t show. Often in literary fiction we prefer showing, not telling, but Zink’s reversal of this really worked here. Doxology is the story of a family of multiple generations and how history and politics (think: 9/11 and the Trump era) have marked their own personal histories.

It’s undeniable that Zink ha
Dan Gibson
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Truly one of the more peculiar novels I've ever read (and learning a bit about Zink's backstory, peculiar might be a given), but it was a super-enjoyable read. Zink's use of language manages to hit a space between being clever and complex, but not in a way that's obtuse or difficult. Plus, the narrative is interesting enough, somehow wrapping together Ian MacKaye, 90's indie rock, 9/11, complex family dynamics and the 2016 election, albeit I'm not sure the story is going to stick to me much furt ...more
Zink’s talent, to me, besides her clear-cut writing chops, is her earnest disillusionment. It opens her up to treating her characters both with genuine care and nuance, and to keep them at arm’s distance as the fictional characters they are. The difference in her various works is in her verve. Her “lesser” novels, such as her previous Nicotine, and now with her newest, Doxology, are simply her less exciting works. There is something missing, despite the entertainment value. Doxology is particula ...more
I devoured this--it's kind of like the plot of one of the music-obsessed Nick Hornby books but with the prose, styling, and off-kilter-ness of Jonathan Lethem's better works (the obsessive neuroticism of the text, for one) but with her own wit and empathy. I liked this one better than Nicotine (which I also liked, but held the reader more at a distance) because the satirical or absurd elements are balanced out by heart.

I sometimes got bogged down in the political/philosophical discussions, espe
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tale of a family, but also a city and a country.

I enjoy Zink's direct turn of phrase, she does not beat around the bush and tells it as it is. The section dealing with 9/11 had a neat summation along the lines of the terrorists were from Saudi and were funded by Saudi, so it was imperative that the USA bombed Afghanistan and Iraq.

The build up to the election of Trump was interesting - the political ad man pitched a negative ad about Trump, but the Democrats would not go there, partly because
Ruth Klassert
this book completely wrecked me, in the best most unexpected way. it’s beautiful, it’s ugly often too & no one gets out alive. most don’t even get to 20 without experiencing some sort of reminder of mortality. I’m glad I went w this purchase. I wasn’t sure I’d like it bc I’ve been so focused on fantasy books but this was a good novel to break up genres a bit. 5/5 stars, have tissues at hand, though bc it is very emotional. I definitely want to visit it again for a more in-depth review becaus ...more
James Beggarly
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book. It’s amazing how she starts the book with three people who meet by chance to start a punk band and then takes you through thirty plus years of life so seamlessly. She’s such a charming writer. I feel like her characters are not only talking how I wish I talked, but in some ways, living the life I wish I was living.
Annette C
Nell’s quirky and inventive and usually original.
But I can’t connect with this book.
I am not sure Nell connects with it either.
She doesn’t love her characters, so why should I?
Two books for the price of one here, and neither the first or second part grabbed me.
Although, if I am completely honest the first part was the more interesting bit.
Disappointed ☹
Jamie Klingler
Just finished it and am frustrated and annoyed. I hate books that are clever for clever’s sake. It also skips like 15 years in the middle without explanation. I agree with the politics espoused but felt like the novel was just a vehicle to share them.
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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
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