Who gave Nathan Hill permission to write about my life? Who took this picture of me and made it into a book? Oh my goodness, this book was so good it made my skin crawl at times with its absolute accuracy. I would suspect that this is the kind of book with the ability to touch and affect every kind of reader, no matter their background. Someone somewhere has either known someone or been that someone that can relate to one or more of the characters in this novel. It is a chameleon and can become whatever book you need it to be. I found it to be absolutely glorious.
Samuel, the main character, is a soft hearted professor whose mom abandoned him and his father when he was young. He grew up always wondering why. Now his publisher is threatening to sue him for the book advance money they paid him to write a novel that he hasn’t written. To escape this peril he offers to get a book written on the Packer Attacker, a woman who threw rocks at the alt-right former governor of Wyoming(?) Packer and is now a media sensation, and also happens to be his estranged mom. What follows is an epic journey of self-discovery and rediscovery of family and lost loves.
This book is full of so many relevant life skills disguised as plot points. I think my favorite was Enemy/Obstacle/Puzzle/Trap. Samuel plays a lot of World of Elfscape online and gets to meet with one of his guild members in person. He divulges that he doesn’t know what to do about his book deal and his mom, and his friend tells him that the best way to deal with anything like this is to label it as one of those four things.
- If it’s an enemy than the only way to solve that problem is to kill it. If you can’t kill it, or if killing it won’t solve your problem, then it’s not an enemy.
- If it’s an obstacle then you have to get past it to get to what you need. If there is no other way to get the information or items, then it’s an obstacle and you must get past it to solve the problem.
- If it’s a puzzle than you can piece together what you need to solve the problem, but…
- Sometimes a puzzle is actually just breadcrumbs for a trap, and you have to be careful that you don’t fall into the trap trying to solve your problem.
I am not kidding when I say that I am going to try to approach my problems just like this for a while. Label them as one of the four and approach their solutions accordingly.
Everyone has a Nix, based on a Norwegian myth of a white horse that lures children in and runs them off a cliff. For some this means don’t trust things that are too good to be true, and for others it means that the things you love the most and are the most valuable to you will someday hurt you the most. Think about it. Who or what is your Nix? I know mine. I’ve been to four therapists since being thrown off the cliff and I still haven’t dealt with the spirit of my Nix. I probably never will. Samuel’s mom is his Nix, and he is faced with coming to terms with her issues and his own. Go for it dude, you’re braver than I am.
I give this book my full endorsement. And if you don’t believe me, go read all the crazy accolades out there for it. There are many. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.