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p33_n48_Clipart_COLOR_Book_Reviews__1_The_NIXTHE NIX by Nathan Hill. Alfred A. Knox 2016. 620 pp.

First of all I must say that this book is different, but very interesting. It is about a man and the mother who had deserted him when he was a child. He is now a grown man and a teacher, and sees her one day on television because she has thrown something at a politician who is giving a speech, and has been arrested He now sets out to find her.

This novel covers a lot of ground going back and forth from his childhood and her young adulthood to their grown up lives. There are so many stories in between from minor incidents to major. It begins with a student of his who has figured out how to cheat her way through school and includes the 1968 Chicago riots. It reminds me a little of my high school reading assignment of Tom Jones. by Henry Fielding. It had so many stories within the novel yet they all came together in the end.

A NIX is a kind of Norwegian spirit. Rather hard to explain. It takes different forms. This is a short review for a long book but there are so many things that happen. You really just have to read it. – C.M.

p33_n48_Clipart_COLOR_Book_Reviews_2_Vinegar_Girl_copyVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. Hogarth/Shakespeare. Random House LLC, 20l6. 237 pp.

The subtitle of this novel is “The Taming of the Shrew Retold.” Kate Battista, the main character, does not truly resemble the “shrew” in Shakespeare’s comedy {after all its the twenty first century} but there certainly are similarities. At times her behavior can seem almost mutinous in regard to the acceptable conduct of young women. She has few friends, doesn’t care how her hair looks, and her main interest in life is gardening. She had been a sophomore in college, but was asked to leave after she told her botany professor that his description of photosynthesis was “half assed.” Now her main occupation is running the home she shares with her father and very pretty and very annoying younger sister Bunny.

Kate’s father, Dr. Battista, is a scientist who has worked diligently for years to unlock the riddle of autoimmune diseases. Now at last his research shows signs of a breakthrough that would help millions of suffering people. But this cannot happen without the help of the doctor’s brilliant lab assistant, Pyotr Shcherbakov, and Pyotr will soon be deported as his visa is about to expire. What can be done to keep Pyotr here? This is the crux of the story. If you have read any of Anne Tyler’s books you know she has an uncanny understanding of the dynamics of families and how bizarre the situations can be. And always there is that undercurrent of humor. This is yet another one of Anne Tyler’s insightful books about a family. – P.M.

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