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3.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,127 ratings  ·  518 reviews
Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this fascinating look into his life before Gatsby.

Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby's periphery, he was at the center of a very different story-one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I.

Floundering in
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published January 5th 2021 by Little, Brown and Company
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Lisa Mcbroom I know there is a scene in The Great Gatsby where it is implied, but in this novel;no.

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Average rating 3.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,127 ratings  ·  518 reviews

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Angela M
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I first saw this cover it was just way too reminiscent of the cover of an edition of The Great Gatsby and I had mixed feelings about whether to read it or not. I’m not a fan of rewrites of classics so I was even more anxious since it’s my favorite book. The Great Gatsby has so much of my heart, that I have never been able to write a review of it, even after multiple rereads for fear of not being able to aptly describe what I feel about this book. I’m digressing, but maybe I’ll try one day. ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge fan of Michael Farris Smith. He is a ridiculously talented atmospheric and riveting author....
a phenomenal storyteller who gives much respect to his characters....( and to his women characters even if they are down & out, hurting and suffering something fierce).

I’ve read “Rivers”, “Desperation Road”, “The Fighter”, Blackwood”,
“The Hands of Strangers”, and now, most recently “Nick”.

I get excited when Michael Farris Smith comes out with a new novel....and “Nick”, exceeded my expectati
Richard (on hiatus)
3.5 stars.

Michael Farris Smith takes the narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and imagines his life prior to the events of the classic novel.
The first part of the story is set during WW1 and follows Nick’s fortunes on the front line in France - a long nightmare of bloody battles and constant fear. During short periods of leave in Paris he strikes up a relationship with Ella, a nomadic free spirit ..... an affair, that in his damaged state becomes all consuming.
Psychologically broken, Nic
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Michael Farris Smith heads into different territory with this breathlessly ambitious imaginative backstory of one of the most famous narrators in American literary history, as he pays homage to the little known observant outsider that is Nick Carraway in F Scott Fitgerald's classic The Great Gatsby. This prequel has the author flesh out Nick, now taking centre stage, vividly constructing how he came to be who he is, taking the reader right up to his arrival in West Egg, to become the friend and ...more
Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

Well, shoot.  It feels as though I had a dinner date scheduled with Michael Farris Smith and someone entirely different showed up in his stead.  I have loved all his fiction up until now, but this simply did not have the appeal to me of his other novels. 

What makes for a special occasion?  Depending on the circumstances,  it may amount to no more than being alive.  War becomes a part of a person, his body and his mind, the scars left on bot
Andrew Smith
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
In his forward the author states that he’s read The Great Gatsby three times and that the first time he read it, as a student, it provoked practically no reaction in him at all. But by the third reading he found that the book was speaking to him and furthermore he began to wonder about Nick Carraway, the man through whose eyes the story is told. Very little is disclosed about Carraway and in fact MFS had only gleaned three facts: he fought in the Great War, he was from the Midwest and he was tur ...more
Jul 12, 2020 marked it as to-read
must...make it...through...2020...

Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Nick gives us the story of Nick Carraway in the years leading up to his appearance in West Egg, in his life before he meets Jay Gatsby. Starting in the trenches of WWI, Smith gives us some of the most graphic descriptions of the war. I felt myself there - the mud, the explosions, the dead. We are given glimpses of his childhood, of his mother with her dark spells. Nick survives but is traumatized. He refuses to return home, landing instead in New Orleans. Here, Nick meets Collette and Judah and ...more
Apr 01, 2021 rated it liked it
I just have to accept the fact that I am not that crazy about this author’s writing style. This is the fourth book I have read by him that I thought was just ok. I probably wouldn’t have read this book if it weren’t for the Gatsby connection, only to find that the use of the name Nick Carraway is only a marketing ploy. The protagonist of this book could have been any man who served in the war, came home damaged, wandered a bit and settled in West Egg. That location, on the final pages of the boo ...more
It just does that.....

The syllable becomes the word and the words become the telling. And within all this, Michael Farris Smith draws us back in time to the imprint of a character so embedded in our minds through The Great Gatsby that it becomes hard to envision Nick in any other setting but that of Long Island. Nick, hunkered down in the old servant's cabin, gazing up at the immense mansion encased in wealth beyond the mind's eye.

But Smith reminds us that we are all products of the human experi
Ron Charles
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
In one of the many famous moments of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, Nick warns Gatsby, “You can’t repeat the past,” and Gatsby replies, incredulously, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”

He was right, though early.

(Watch the Totally Hip Video Book Review of "Nick" here.)

On Jan. 1, 2021, the copyright on “The Great Gatsby” expires, and anybody can repeat it. The Fitzgerald literary estate and Scribner’s, which has sold tens of millions of copies of “Gatsby,” no longer control thi
Connie G
Michael Farris Smith has written a prequel to The Great Gatsby showing the earlier life of Nick Carraway, the character who narrates F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic book. Nick was the quiet observer, the cousin of Daisy Buchanan, and the confidant of Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan. When Nick moved to wealthy West Egg, New York, in 1922, he had recently fought in the Great War and he was bored with working in his Midwestern family's hardware business. Prohibition had started two years earlier. Nick wa ...more
Roman Clodia
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I've loved some of Farris Smith's books and thought this was a bold departure: to imagine the back-story of Nick Carraway, the bystander-narrator of The Great Gatsby. Sadly, it didn't really work for me. I think the issue is that it's too packed with events, and that the writing doesn't really engage strongly enough with the story being told.

MFS is usually a strong and subtle writer but this seems to be overly plot-driven as it shifts from WW1 trenches to New Orleans and crams in masses of even
Jan 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before Gatsby and that silly fool Daisy and the glitter of the 1920s, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway finds himself in the trenches of WWI and chasing an unforgettable woman in Paris. Oh, it was good and it had me hooked. This prequel turned the focus on a character that I had often wondered about each time I read The Great Gatsby. Nick emerges as a son haunted by events of his childhood, a mot
Regina Watts
Jan 08, 2021 rated it did not like it
I just hate that this exists
Nov 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, historical, netgalley
In brief - Wonderful writing and some parts I loved but just SO bleak.

In full
This is Nick's story before he knew Gatsby (as in the Great Gatsby). It starts in Paris during WW1 with Nick on leave from the front line trenches. He has met a girl there but his leave ends and he reluctantly returns to war. The writing is vividly evocative and when Nick volunteers for tunnelling the sense of claustrophobia is very real. The story follows Nick back to the USA after the war. His mental scarring is vivid
Shellie Zeigler
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
First off, many thanks to Edelweiss for an advanced copy of Nick. This review is my own. The classic tale “The Great Gatsby” is told through the eyes of outsider Nick Carraway. Readers know that Nick is from Minnesota and he fought in World War I. Other than those facts, there is no real backstory to Nick. Author Michael Farris Smith is going to give you a hell of a lot of insight on not only what Nick endured in WWI, but his journey that led him to West Egg. The novel “Nick” is scheduled to be ...more

"Today is one of those days, NICK is on big sale in the kindle, nook, and ibooks stores, a whopping 2.99" - 5/30/2021

Michael Farris Smith shares the story of Nick, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, his life leading up the days when he moves next door to the Gatsby mansion. It opens as Nick is seated at a corner café in Paris where he is wont to spend his mornings, drinking espresso while the ”hours of his leave tick away and on the days when the sun filtered through the trees and fell upon the c
Lisa of Troy
Jan 28, 2021 rated it did not like it
Check out my 1 minute spoiler-free review here:

Nick is the much anticipated prequel to The Great Gatsby. It follows Nick Carraway as he fights on the US side of World War I, has a brief romance in Paris, and his adventures in New Orleans as he helps a wounded soldier.

This book was very gloomy, but it didn't come across as very moving. In some ways, I give the author a little bit of credit because in The Great Gatsby Nick was aloof, he was observing. However, it does
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
You may go into this book having no idea that the cover art is a play off of The Great Gatsby cover, the eyes, "that" color of blue. You may not even know that Nick is the narrator of The Great Gatsby. And you know what, if you do not know any of these things it's okay. You don't even need to have read or heard of The Great Gatsby. However, this is the Nick from The Great Gatsby before meeting Gatsby.

Author, Michael Farris Smith, admits he knew very little about Nick. "I realized I only knew th
Whispering Stories
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed on

I need to begin this review with a confession. I haven’t fully read The Great Gatsby, just a few chapters many years ago. Yes, I have seen the movie with Leonardo Di Caprio, and one of my children was reading the book for their English class so we had the study guide which I read at the time to help them with their essay, so I do know about the plot and the narrator Nick Carraway, who was my favourite character so I jumped at the chance to learn more abo
Eva B.
Mar 04, 2021 added it
Shelves: disappointing, dnf
Not rating because I didn't get super far in, but I just couldn't. The writing style was very tryhard and, as a result, hard to follow, especially with how some of the dialogue was written. While this was obviously set prior to The Great Gatsby, Nick in this book (in third person for some reason? despite his first-person narration being one of the most memorable aspects of that book) feels nothing like Fitzgerald's Nick, who I really love. While I admittedly didn't get too far into the book (not ...more
Andy Helms
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
The Great Gatsby is—without a doubt—my favorite book, and I re-read it at least once per year. In fact, it was the first book I (re-)read in 2021. Additionally, I've always related to the character of Nick Carraway and, despite his flaws, I see myself in Nick. It seems to me that Fitzgerald intentionally kept Nick Carraway somewhat vague and, frankly, that's probably why it's so easy for me to relate to Nick. Given all of this, I was fairly nervous to read Nick. Would Nick take away from my ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Linda by: Karen
Shelves: own, paperback, arc, fiction
Often felt lost and I kept thinking, "What's the point?" I'm still not sure I can answer that question.

Thank you to Hachette for providing me with an ARC of Nick prior to their annual Book Club Brunch.
Jul 12, 2020 marked it as considering
Here I going being super pretentious:
I teach Gatsby. I’ve taught Gatsby. Although the novel is short, it’s hella complex. There’s a reason why it’s taught to AP students - excellent for analysis.

Nick is a complicated character that serves a purpose, he give us insight to both parties albeit being somewhat unreliable.
I’m not sure how I personally feel about a “prequel” to Gatsby. I’m interested but I REALLY don’t think it will serve any purpose??? Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s commentary on the Americ
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most famous bystander narrators in literature gets his own book. Well, yes, why not. This seems to be a genre onto itself, though I’m not sure what to call it. The appropriation of famous existing characters and subsequent reimagining of either their life of the story from which their come, told from a fresh perspective and all that. so, essentially, a highbrow (and oftentimes more PG) and infinitely more literary in most cases version of fanfiction. Frankly, I haven’t read too many o ...more
The year 2021 marks the 125th anniversary of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birth and his most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, coming out of copyright in the USA. Nick is described by the publishers as Michael Farris Smith’s attempt to pull Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, ‘out of the shadows and into the spotlight’.

In his foreword to Nick, Farris Smith notes that, in The Great Gatsby, Nick provides very little information about himself. Essentially, the reader knows only that he fought i
Jeremy Liang
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
Look, I really take no pleasure in writing negative reviews -- The Great Gatsby is in my pantheon of books, and I had every intention of loving Nick -- but what Smith did with Nick Carraway just wasn't at all for me.

I don't doubt Smith's skill as a writer, but I have no idea why this archetypal wanderer character of the lost generation had to be Nick. Truly, besides some plot pieces and the occasional allusion, this Nick has nothing in common with Gatsby's, with Nick's cold, monotone third-perso
Oct 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020-read
Thank you to Hachette for providing me with an ARC of Nick prior to their annual Book Club Brunch. The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel, and much as I was nervous reading Go Set a Watchman in relation to To Kill a Mockingbird, I was nervous to read this novel. This main character in this novel could have been any of dozens of World War I veterans, who having survived a horrendous war, procrastinate returning home to take up the life they are supposed to live. The first part of the book, we get ...more
Claire Fullerton
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It will take hours to wipe the awestruck look off your face after reading the last line of the anxiously anticipated Nick by Michael Farris Smith, a writer with a wildly enthusiastic fan base that fancies itself insiders to Farris Smith’s gritty esotericism. You’re cool if you follow this Oxford, Mississippi author. You are in-crowd if you’re hip to this writer who seemed to inherit the tool kit of the great Southern writers before him. Referred to as MFS by those who take his work personally be ...more
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Michael Farris Smith is the author of Nick (2021), Blackwood, The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. His essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter So ...more

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