Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I.
Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence.
An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, NICK reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.
Sometimes a book appears at just the right time in your life – and this was one of those times when I really needed to find a book to lose myself in. I have recommended it to so many people as ‘the perfect book for you’ , talked about it people at my Zoom Book Group and will definitely be buying it as gifts for quite a few of my friends too. I was SO excited to be invited on the tour for this book and can’t wait to read about what my fellow bloggers thought too…
I don’t think you have had to love The Great Gatsby immensely to bond with this book, but by god – if you have there will be moments in this novel that you’ll read and read again saying ‘This explains things so PERFECTLY…’ and I think that there will definitely be so many people who have wondered about aNick’s story so many times that they will love to gain another complementary insight into this story and think about these characters from a unique and fascinating alternative perspective
I’d like to thank Hollie at No Exit Press for inviting me on the tour and recommend that you follow it and see what all the other fab bloggers had to say about this unforgettable book. It’s so good to back in the blogging world after being so caught up in school across the pandemic and this was such a great read to remind me of why I love bookblogging so much – when I get to read fantastic novels like this and tell other people how much they’ll love it too!
Books that relate to well loved classics can be divisive and often attreact critiism from purists who can’t accept any embellishments on a tale that they’ve loved so much– but this one really is different. It’s both related to and wholly of its own self in exactly the right ratio to be truly satisfying and there will be moments where you’ll literally be so captivated by this tale that you won’t even be able to look up – but by the end the impact is both cathartic and gratifying and I’m so jealous of everyone who hasn’t read it yet…
As you will have surmised by now, I literally could not put this book down, I was so caught up in this journey and I’m sure you will be too. It really felt like Nick and I had been through this together. Its combination of devastating brutality and moments of absolute normality mean that everyone can identify with some part of this backwards-lived story– it’s a representation of all the things that we all struggle with in life and you’ll be reminded of your own journeys through pain, separation and loss in the reading of it
I loved the idea behind this book: that in the middle of loss and devastation it’s important to remember sometimes that our future might not always be written the way that we think it is and that we can see relationships differently if we view them from the other end of the kaleidoskope. Seeing Nick’s relationship from the other end in this compelling prequel was a reminder that loss can come in all shapes and sizes and there were moments when the beauty of the prose here just blew me away. If you don’t finish this novel and immediately go and search for all of Michael Farris Smith’s back catalogue, then you’ve clearly got far more restraint than I have
This is the kind of book you’ll be buying for your friends and begging them to read as you will want to spend hours thinking of all the ways you’ve lived through moments like these or met someone who’s been through exactly the same set of emotions even if the root causes were slightly different…
I hope that you find some time to check out some of the other fantastic bloggers on the tour – I am really looking forward to hearing what they thought and I’m hoping that they reveal their own Gatsby moments in their reviews. I defy you not to be moved, captivated and haunted by this unforgettable read. Buy yourself a copy here
Praise for Nick
‘NICK is so pitch-perfect, so rich in character and action, so remarkable a combination of elegance and passion, so striking in felt originality that I am almost tempted to say – book gods forgive me – that The Great Gatsby will forever feel like NICK’s splendid but somewhat paler sequel’ – Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
‘Stylish, evocative, haunting and wholly original’ – Chris Whitaker, author of We Begin at the End
‘Anybody who believes that the war is over when the enemy surrenders and the troops come home needs to read Michael Farris Smith’s masterful new novel NICK. Its stark, unvarnished truth will haunt you’ – Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
‘A dark and often gripping story that imagines the narrator of The Great Gatsby in the years before that book began… The new Nick is a man fully realized, with a mind tormented by the war and by a first love that waned too fast to a fingernail moon of bitter memory. A compelling character study and a thoroughly unconventional prequel’ – Kirkus Reviews
‘Smith is emerging as one of the great chroniclers of America’s dispossessed. A haunting and utterly compelling read’ – Mail on Sunday on Blackwood
‘Though Farris Smith has five novels under his belt, he is little known in Britain. That ought to change: let some Mississippian mayhem, murder and misery into your lives’ – The Times on Blackwood
Writer On The Shelf
Michael Farris Smith is the author of Nick, Blackwood, The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, NPR, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.