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2018 Book Discussions > The Nix - General discussion - no spoilers! (Sep 2018)

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message 1: by Doug (last edited Aug 31, 2018 12:30PM) (new)

Doug Thanks for joining us for Sept. book pick, The Nix. This thread is for general discussion as we read along, but please no spoilers! There is a second folder in which you can include such!


message 2: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments I'm so excited to discuss this book!

Could we edit the discussion thread titles to include the name of the book so that when the notifications pop up it's easier to tell which book threads they are associated with? Maybe a symptom of too many groups, heh.


message 3: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2835 comments Mod
I have a copy and will probably join you later in the month...


message 4: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 5 comments Just downloaded a copy and looking forward to it.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Bretnie wrote: "I'm so excited to discuss this book!

Could we edit the discussion thread titles to include the name of the book so that when the notifications pop up it's easier to tell which book threads they ar..."


Thank you for mentioning that--I feel the same way.

I guess I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn't a reading schedule associated with the book, or at least broken down into sections. 600+ pages seems like a lot to discuss without any structure behind it. I think I've only been part of one other book discussion with this group, so maybe I've not seen that that's the general way it's done here.

Anyway, I've got my copy and plan on starting as soon as I finish my current read.


message 6: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2445 comments I have a copy but am traveling and not yet started. Since I have only a quarter left in the only Booker longlist with me, I will soon be turning to The Nix.


message 7: by Doug (last edited Aug 31, 2018 08:27PM) (new)

Doug Bryan wrote: "I guess I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn't a reading schedule associated with the book, or at least broken down into sections. 600+ pages seems like a lot to discuss without any structure behind it."

The forum has never, to my knowledge given an assigned schedule, since everyone reads at their own pace and begin and end the book accordingly. Some moderators do set up folders broken down into sections, but with 10 chapters of widely varying length, I didn't see how that was helpful/manageable, but if the consensus from the group is that such are warranted, I can certainly set them up ... or perhaps set up five folders each comprised of two chapters? I'm here to help, let me know!


message 8: by Linda (new)

Linda | 71 comments I started this early with the thought that since it's a longer book I would still be reading it into September, perfect timing for discussion. However, I was completely pulled into the story and am now 90% done, which was a surprise to me given the synopsis of the book didn't really stir any excitement in me. It's definitely one of my favorite reads this year.


message 9: by Doug (last edited Aug 31, 2018 04:30PM) (new)

Doug So pleased you found it as compelling as I did - I keep trying to tell people NOT to be daunted by its length...it really is a fast read!


message 10: by Linda (new)

Linda | 71 comments Yes, it really is a quick read! Although I'm listening to the audio, so for me a quick listen. :)


message 11: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Linda, I LOVED the reader of the audiobook!

Thanks for making the update Doug!


message 12: by Lily (last edited Aug 31, 2018 06:41PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments The first chapters haven't grabbed me. We do have a shore vacation planned for next week, so I hope that I will find a turning point while there. It will have to contend with Moby Dick (Western Canon board) and I am behind on that read, as well as with Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think for my f2f group this month. So I hope it open up for me, as for Linda and Bretnie and yourself, Doug. (In the meantime, a couple of friends diverted me with Dan Brown's Origin. Probably not really even worth a beach vacation, but a little bit fun to see what Brown does with words and a plot and a story.)


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Doug wrote: "The forum has never, to my knowledge given an assigned schedule, since everyone reads at their own pace and begin and end the book accordingly. Some moderators do set up folders broken down into sections, but with 10 chapters of widely carrying length, I didn't see how that was helpful/manageable, but if the consensus from the group is that such are warranted, I can certainly set them up ... or perhaps set up five folders each comprised of two chapters? I'm here to help, let me know!"

If there were others who were interested in having a couple folders for this discussion, I'd toss my vote in with them, but otherwise, I'm fine with it the way it is.


message 14: by Doug (new)

Doug By the way, I am the number one fan of Ron Charles, the 'Totally Hip Book Reviewer' for the Washington Post, and he did one of his inimitable clever videos reviewing The Nix. It doesn't contain any real spoilers, so feel free to watch before you read the book:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_e-z...


message 15: by Linda (new)

Linda | 71 comments Lily wrote: "The first chapters haven't grabbed me."

If I had a print copy I could look back and pinpoint where I was really grabbed by the book, but I know it was pretty early on for me. I even thought how I knew it was going to be a book I could see myself just tearing through and thought I should put it down and wait until September, but by then the pull was too great and I couldn't help but continue.

Bretnie wrote: "Linda, I LOVED the reader of the audiobook!"

Me too!! I love how he did a couple of characters in particular (Laura and Pwnage). The narrator is Ari Fliakos and his name sounds familiar to me so I must have listened to him before. I would have to look back at my books and figure out which one it was, though.


Doug - that video was hilarious! (btw, Jerusalem was another great read)


message 16: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2445 comments Thanks Doug for the Ron Charles review. I like his book reviews although I usually read them in print.


message 17: by Grumpy Old Books (new)

Grumpy Old Books (revelijenkins) 15% into the book so far. The plot is more slow burner than edge of your seat adventure. Its cleverly written with a touch of sarcasm and irony. He also touches on the shallowness of humanity with the characters of his student and publisher. Enjoyable so far. 😁👍🏽


message 18: by SueLucie (new)

SueLucie | 33 comments I'll be joining you later in the month when I've finished a couple of books I have on the go. I'm really looking forward to it.


message 19: by Meike (last edited Sep 01, 2018 09:51AM) (new)

Meike (meikereads) Like Doug, I read this book some time ago and really enjoyed it. I liked how Hill works with the themes of shape-shifting, façades, appearance and disappearance throughout the story. About the title-giving Nix, the text says:

"The Nix, she (Samuel's mother) said, was a spirit of the water who flew up and down the coastline looking for children, especially adventurous children walking alone. When it found one, the Nix would appear to the child as a large white horse. (...)
The kids who were victims of the Nix always felt, at first, fear. Then luck. Then possession. Then pride. Then terror. (…) They’d never felt so important, so full of pleasure. And only at this point (…) would the horse veer off the road (…). The horse leaped off the cliff and dropped. The children clung to its neck even as they fell (…).”

- all this happens in different variations in the book.


message 20: by Nadine in California (last edited Sep 01, 2018 01:10PM) (new)

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments I read this last December and I don't own a copy, but going by memory (refreshed by rereading my review), this book had lots of strands, and while some were better than others for me, the ones that were 'better' were tremendously entertaining. I could re-read Laura Potsdam's defense of her plagiarized Hamlet essay over and over and never get tired of it. The timing couldn't have been better - I was dealing with my own Laura Potsdam while reading it ;)


message 21: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Nadine wrote: "I could re-read Laura Potsdam's defense of her plagiarized Hamlet essay over and over and never get tired of it. The timing couldn't have been better - I was dealing with my own Laura Potsdam while reading it ;) "

This part cracked me up! I was surprised it didn't annoy me since the rants were so long, and the audio book narrator's voice reads it so sterotypically, but I thought it was hilarious and a fun way to set the tone of an interesting book.


message 22: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2248 comments Mod
Bretnie wrote: "This part cracked me up! I was surprised it didn't annoy me since the rants were so long, and the audio book narrator's voice reads it so sterotypically, but I thought it was hilarious and a fun way to set the tone of an interesting book. .."

I hate to admit that it did annoy me. I saw the humor, but it just dragged on too long. It probably would have been better if I'd been reading instead of listening. Given all the raves here, though, I will just assume I was in a cranky mood and carry on.


message 23: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
I’m excited to start this one as it’s been on my to-read pile for a whole. I’m visiting the in-laws so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done this weekend but I’ll try to join in the discussion before too long!


message 24: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 188 comments This one was the perfect anti-novel for me. If someone programmed a computer to analyse my reading tastes and write a novel that pretty much hit every negative button, they would struggle to improve (if that's the right word) on this. Perhaps my least favourite book of the last 250 or so I have read.

But purely a matter of personal taste. Many readers whose literary taste I respect - including our host Doug - absolutely loved it, so looking forward to see what everyone makes of it.


message 25: by Doug (new)

Doug Paul wrote: "This one was the perfect anti-novel for me. If someone programmed a computer to analyse my reading tastes and write a novel that pretty much hit every negative button, they would struggle to improv..."

But you only read what, less than 5% of it? At least I struggled through ALL of Reservoir 13 and Milkman - before trashing them :-)


message 26: by David (new)

David | 242 comments I wasn't planning on reading this book or joining the discussion, but I just happened to be sitting in my local library when I saw the start of this thread announcing the start of the discussion. Then, a few minutes later, I looked around me and saw not six feet away from me were two copies of the book sitting side-by-side on the shelf. So I had to pick it up and read the first few pages.

I liked the story of how the mother moved out of the house one item at a time over the period of a year. That was pretty funny and a clever idea. But then when we got to the description of the inept news reporters I just rolled my eyes. It was annoyingly stupid. And finally we get to the description of the politician. Satire works best when it is an absurd exaggeration of the real, but this just seemed too tame given how politics has changed in the last two years.

The writing reads to me as if the author seems very satisfied with how clever he thinks he is. So I put the book back and decided that the fewer than ten pages I read was enough for me. The book that this brief read reminded me of was The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Knowing how much Paul disliked that one, too, I wonder if maybe he saw any similarity as well.


message 27: by Doug (new)

Doug David wrote: "Satire works best when it is an absurd exaggeration of the real, but this just seemed too tame given how politics has changed in the last two years."

Well, you have to remember that this took Hill ten years to write, and was published prior to 45 'winning' (i.e., stealing) the election - so who could have predicted how absolutely absurd politics has gotten in the US in the past 20 months (which seems more like 20 years!)? But in choosing this, I fully understood many people WOULDN'T cotton to it ... and that's OK!

I still find it fascinating that Paul couldn't stomach more than a few pages either, but his identical twin raved and gave it 5 stars! I didn't care much for 'The Sellout' either, and while I can semi-see why they could be compared, to me this is more in the vein of my favorite book of THIS year, John Boyne's 'The Heart's Invisible Furies'.


message 28: by David (new)

David | 242 comments Doug wrote: "Well, you have to remember that ..."

Yes, no one knew when this book was published just how wild things would get in reality, but unfortunately that had the effect (for me, anyway) of taking all the sting out of the initial description of the character. The British comedian Stewart Lee just had a new comedy special broadcast on BBC. He opens the show explaining how when he started the tour people expected him to have lots of Brexit jokes, but he didn't write any because he didn't know how it was going to go and he wanted to be able to tour for most of a year. He then goes on to make Brexit jokes, including one where he explains how at the start of the tour people laughed for one reason, in the middle of the tour they didn't find it funny because of a new development, and by the end of the tour it was funny again because of an even more recent event. So yes, it's not the author's fault when events overtake him, but it is his burden.


message 29: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 188 comments Yes I did only read about 10%. The first book I have not finished for many years. And I did see some similarities with The Sellout, but I was able to finish that one. This was in a different league of pushing my buttons.


message 30: by Doug (new)

Doug Paul wrote: "Yes I did only read about 10%. The first book I have not finished for many years. And I did see some similarities with The Sellout, but I was able to finish that one. This was in a different league..."

Not that I am seriously suggesting such - I am all for DNF-ing something that is torturous - but am wondering if you DID soldier on and finish it, whether you would reach an 'epiphany' about the book, similar to Neil's on 'Milkman'?!


message 31: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2835 comments Mod
I am well aware of some of the spirited disagreements some of us have had both here and in other groups, and that most of it is meant in a spirit of light-hearted banter, but this may not be apparent to all who read these discussions, so please can I make a gentle request on behalf of the other moderators to keep this discussion and others in this group on topic.


message 32: by Doug (new)

Doug Hugh wrote: "I am well aware of some of the spirited disagreements some of us have had both here and in other groups, and that most of it is meant in a spirit of light-hearted banter, but this may not be appare..."

Sorry, Hugh - the point I was trying to make (as you say, in a light-hearted way), was that Paul's disdain was based on a very meager sampling ... and NOT the whole book. I was attempting to encourage people not to be disheartened from continuing on, if the book didn't immediately grab them at the first chapter, since I had that experience also. Will try to be more 'on point' in future.


message 33: by Kay (new)

Kay | 73 comments I am excited to join in this month. Just got my copy.


message 34: by Whitney (last edited Sep 03, 2018 07:45PM) (new)

Whitney | 2248 comments Mod
I'm about 15% in, enjoying it much more than I was initially. Good writing that will keep me going. I do find that the targets of much of Hill's satire are a bit fish-in-a-barrel. It's not so much that the parody of the the faux-folksy politician has been made tame by current events as that it's been done to death. Some other things that weren't exactly begging for an overdue skewering: the incompetent husband and his long-suffering wife; suburban shopping malls; hyper-sexy and basically stupid coeds (I use the archaic term intentionally).


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments Whitney wrote: "I do find that the targets of much of Hill's satire are a bit fish-in-a-barrel..."

I also got started--read Part I last night. I think you are spot-on.

It's interesting you mention good writing. Most new authors (and there are surely hundreds of exceptions) do seem to be excellent craftsmen. But I rarely feel much effect from it. I enjoy it while I'm reading it, but it leaves little impression (and again, I know there are hundreds of exceptions to this statement as well). I don't have vast experience with newer writers, but I find myself disappointed more than not with the few I've tried. Chabon, Letham, Shteyngart, Moody all were fun as I was reading, but are kind of like stones dropped in a pond. Splash, ripple, nothing. I feel as though The Nix is heading in the same direction. (Just for some exceptions--I've liked everything I've ever read by Sebald, Lahiri and Marilynne Robinson, to show I don't just read white male American authors.)

All right--sorry for going off topic; it's just that so far, the best I can say about The Nix is that it seems like an entertaining diversion.


message 36: by Sue (new)

Sue I'm about 10% in and I'm really liking this one so far.

I admit, my heart sank a little when I started to read about the politician. I'm sick of all politicians everywhere - including, maybe even especially, in the books I read to escape "real life".

But then the book moved on to what will clearly be the main characters, and I had a sigh of relief.

Looking forward to see how all these stories play out.


message 37: by Doug (new)

Doug An interesting, spoiler-free interview with the author:

https://www.news-press.com/story/ente...


message 38: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 66 comments I have now finished half the book and i am really enjoying his witty writing style.

The description of the politician is only a small part of the book so do not be bothered by it.

I think lot of parts are hilarious, I loved the scene where Laura and Samuel are discussing her plagarized homework.


message 39: by Karen D (new)

Karen D | 8 comments I agree completely with some of what the earlier posters said. I started this early because it's so long, and the description didn't completely grab me, but once I started it was I hooked and ended up flying through it! For me, this was just one of those books where I really enjoyed the writing style, the development of all the different and interesting characters (including Laura Pottsdam who at first felt like a throwaway), that it didn't really matter what the story line was to get me connected.


message 40: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 5 comments I didn’t care for the writing style at all in the early pages of this book. The dialogue in particular wasn’t believable to me. The phone call from the lawyer comes to mind. However, about 20% in I really started to enjoy it. I’m not sure if the writing has changed or if I’ve just settled into it. Im about a quarter of the way through now and cautiously optimistic.


message 41: by Lyn (last edited Sep 06, 2018 03:53PM) (new)

Lyn | 42 comments I just finished The Nix, and am still digesting it, but am generally impressed.

I think it would have been a better book with some editing and paring down of some of the lengthy descriptions, but I became fairly adept at skimming those that seemed repetitive and not essential to the plot (and occasionally going back to read them, realizing that I wanted to know more about that).

Hill's tone sat right in the pocket of appropriate skewering of the shallowness and greed of our culture, so while this involved reading a lot of negative stuff, it's stuff we're living through and I'm feeling, so there was comfort in having perceptive and intelligent company in the knowledge that our country and values are seriously hypocritical and corrupt. I saw foreshadowing in the novel of 45's constant attempted selling of his "alternative truths".

I'm a retired teacher, so cringed in recognition of the Laura Pottsdam variety of student, cleverly written and painfully funny.

I liked how it ended with Samuel, Faye, and Bethany.

I'll digest a bit longer and then post more in the thread with spoilers allowed.


message 42: by Kay (new)

Kay | 73 comments I have just stared but I’m enjoying this book so far. Even though as a university professor myself, it’s hitting a bit too close to home :)


message 43: by Grumpy Old Books (new)

Grumpy Old Books (revelijenkins) 47% in and the author does like to set off on tangents. Although these tangents are enjoyable enough. It will be interesting to see if he pulls the several threads together at the end. A sharp insightful look at the modern waspish world and the unfulfilled slightly melancholey souls that inhabit it.


message 44: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments I thought it was hilarious to read later that the original book was more than 1000 pages - I believe it! Even though at times I thought the book could use some editing, I loved the style enough that I didn't mind the tangents.

The long section on Pwnage later in the book (the day he quits playing the game) was one of those tangents, but I ended up loving that section.

Pwnage's struggles in the grocery store killed me. "You've got to represent!" Poor guy is trying to try.


message 45: by Doug (new)

Doug Bretnie wrote: "I thought it was hilarious to read later that the original book was more than 1000 pages - I believe it! Even though at times I thought the book could use some editing, I loved the style enough tha..."

I had heard that and now am wondering what were in those 400 pages! Let's demand an 'unexpurgated' version! :-) I've read that 'A Little Life' was originally 1200 pages and that Yanagihara fought every cut... but IMHO, that could have stood to lose another couple hundred from it's final 720!


message 46: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments While I'm still reading, I'm having some of the same problems David reported -- while there is some very clever writing, the satire doesn't work for me. For me, satire requires that the writer have some sympathy for the characters they write, and in most cases I'm not feeling that he does. But I'm stubborn, and once I get my teeth into a book, I seldom let it go until I finish it, so I'll see if it gets better. Fortunately I happen to be reading a print copy in this particular case, and have flipped ahead a bit to parts that look like I'd like to read them, so there's that motivation.


message 47: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
I'm finding the book very uneven. Some parts are interesting, but other parts just a little tiresome. As someone else commented, I don't think the author is as clever as he seems to think he is. I finished Book I last night, and started Book II. With the jump back in time to Samuel's childhood, the tone shifted again and I found myself reading about a character who seemed to be sniveling, and was not very likeable. I don't think the author likes him, either.


message 48: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2248 comments Mod
I don't feel he's unsympathetic to his characters, but just that, as I said before, his satire is largely weak tea. To me, good satire provides insights into its targets. I can't say I've had any views challanged or gained any additional understanding of humanity. But it is engaging enough to keep me going, and I have hope for the way everything will come together.


message 49: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 702 comments Those are interesting thoughts Casceil and Whitney. What I liked about the book as a whole was that I started out feeling very unsympathetic to the mother and very sympathetic to Samuel, but as the story progresses and we learn more about each character's past and their choices, my sympathies shifted. I still struggled at the end with how he left a couple of the characters, but I liked that it challenged my initial thoughts about them.


message 50: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2877 comments Mod
If anyone is interested in listening to the Bruch violin piece that Bethany plays, here's a link (there are many others if you do a quick Internet search): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhssdVkD1zs

I thought Hill did a wonderful job writing about music and capturing its power to move a person.


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