Cover Image: NICK

NICK

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Member Reviews

Date reviewed/posted: November 21, 2020

When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us,  superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby

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.

As soon as I saw the cover, I was excited thinking "this MUST have something to do with the Great Gatsby" as the covers are too alike! The book is, unfortunately, just ...okay.  It is ridiculously floral in its descriptions at times and it is tedious and trying at others. It was a middle effort earning a middle rating - it might float your boat. it just did not float mine.

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube  Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🍸🍸🍸
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A nicely written book about the horrors of war. Marketing is as a 'prequel' to Gatsby seems a bit of stretch though-this book could be written about literally any soldier, and has nothing to do with The Great Gatsby
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I enjoyed this creative examination of the character Nick Carraway and what happened before Fitgerald's novel. The love story was especially compelling and I wish there had been more of that.
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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 neighbour of Jay Gatsby. Nick grew up in Minnesota, unable to face small town life and the future that awaits him if he were to remain. He ends up in Europe and France, in the midst of all the harrowing horrors and trauma of WW1, trench warfare, surrounded by death and destruction, sharply contrasting with life in Paris that he experiences on leave, falling in love with a French woman, Ella, a doomed affair right from the start.

When the war comes to a close, the introverted Nick is no longer the man he used to be, he is haunted and broken, torn asunder by all that he has seen, physically, emotionally and mentally scarred. When he returns to the US, a lost soul, he makes the impulsive decision not to go back home, but head to impoverished, vice ridden, violent New Orleans with its alcohol, prohibition and amorality instead, plagued by nightmares, in search of hope and redemption until he steps into his role as we know it in The Great Gatsby. No novel by this author is ever going to be a feel good read, this treads bleak and dark territory, written with such vibrancy and rich descriptions that are Farris Smith's trademark style.

You feel as if you know and understand Nick with his flashbacks, are right there in the grim realities of war, love, and loss that Nick cannot ever erase, all of which explain his remoteness and distance from others, the outsider status that defines his role in F Scott Fitzgerald's novel. The author's beautifully realised flawed and damaged characterisation of Nick connects perfectly with that of the Nick from the classic novel, capturing how our personal histories make us the people we are in the present. Many thanks to Oldcastle Books for an ARC.
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An interesting concept, I enjoyed the backstory and the depth with which the author takes on the retelling of The Great Gatsby.
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Controversially, I didn't enjoy the Great Gatsby, but I loved this. Subtle, menacing and, often, tragic, it is a vivid portrait of a character western literature knows well.
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Stellar reimagining of Fitzgerald's characters. The writing is excellent and the story is well thought out. I can see why this is getting so much attention ahead of its release!
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One of my all time favourite books is ‘The Great Gatsby’, I have read it countless times and found something new or interpreted something different in every reading so when I began ‘Nick’ I was nervous but then I was astounded. 
Michael Farris Smith conveys Nick’s voice so well it seamlessly flows into Fitzgerald’s world and ties in so many themes elegantly. This novel preempts Fitzgerald’s focus on love, isolation and of course the realities of the ‘American dream’ whilst giving a heart-wrenching glimpse into Nick’s life before he set foot in West Egg. 
Nick Carraway’s back story recounts the horrors he witnessed during World War I, a dramatic romance in Paris and dark immorality in New Orleans. These intense and vivid experiences create a fully realised character who was previously an onlooker of other people’s lives. Smith’s novel is a beautifully crafted stand alone but is a must read for any ‘Gatsby’ fans.
I also have to mention the front cover which hints at the eyes of Dr TJ Eckleburg; as many critics take this to be a symbolic view of the lack of human morality. After reading this novel I now understand so much more about Nick and his role not as a passer of judgement but an eloquent observer who has witnessed so much about humanity across all walks of life. 
An epic prequel.
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Such a great premise for a book. What was Nick Carraway like before he met Gatsby? Here Smith draws on his imagination and knowledge of the period to describe Nick Carraway in his early life, and to show what he imagines happened to him and shaped him. 
Smith does a good job of writing on a similar style to F Scott Fitzgerald, and this adds to the believability of this tale, that this is the same Nick Carraway. Smith makes good use of war sequences to explain the state of mind that Nick Carraway was in at the start of the Greay Gatsby.
This book is well worth the read for any Gatsby fan.
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As a big Gatsby fan I wasn't sure what tp expect. It's a bit risky as an author to put yourself out there against Fitzgerald, but luckily the plot is pre-Gatsby and so is able to stand on it's own a bit. I enjoyed the writing style, overall not bad at all for anyone wondering how Nick got to Long Island. Curious to see what the author does next
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I wasn't really sure what to expect when starting this book, though as a big fan of the original The Great Gatsby I went in with a harsh criteria. I was not disappointed, partly because the novel was so far removed from Fitzgerald's book. Though based on the narrator, Nick, the storyline focuses solely on his life prior to meeting Gatsby. Taking the reader through Nick's time in the military during WW1 , a turbulent love affair in Paris and then a period of self-discovery in New Orleans. 
Farris-Smith has managed to bring a new depth to the character created by Fitzgerald, whilst introducing  interesting characters that add to the shaping of Nick's character and make for a gripping novel.
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Nick, Michael Farris Smith

A mesmerising, gorgeous look at the life of Nick Carraway before he met the enigmatic Jay Gatsby. This is a well written, wonderfully explored homage to one of the most famous novels of all time. A stunning read.
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This is not what I was expecting. I suppose I made the mistake of thinking that I'd be getting more Gatsby. It was bold and brave of the writer to attempt this but it was not my cup of tea. 

The writing was not as strong as I'd hoped and therefore I did not finish the whole book. 

I feel bad for the writer because he has put himself in a position to be compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
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** spoiler alert ** Giving a back story to a famous character is incredibly clever,and brave I think. Especially when you didn't create that character.
It definitely worth it here.
I read Nick in one sitting,as he pulled me through war,his great love,the crazy streets of new Orleans.... I happily read it all.
It was bold and full of larger than life characters.. which I guess was just prep work for where we left him.
I don't love Gatsby,so I can't say how truly this Nick works with the one in that book... But I can say,I think these might have been his biggest adventures.
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Michael Farris Smith's follow-up to The Great Gatsby (due out next year, just in time to escape copyright) is a prequel-cum-sequel that establishes a complex circular relationship with the past.

It draws on and massively extends the original book's theme of lives being drawn back in the past into something almost metaphysical. The past not only intrudes into the present, it is the template by which we understand and operate within it. The result is that we can never return to the past, but are doomed to repeat it in new and interesting ways.

As Nick puts it: "I will try as hard as I can try no matter that I know I am at the mercy of whatever circles us around. We are here now but we will be here again and next time with the child but will it be with different faces and different sounds but the same desperate feelings? The same slipping grip on what we have made?"

Fittingly, "Nick" opens with the protagonist trying to find a lost love in the fog and ends with him first spotting Jay Gatsby. The two books' narratives are thus intertwined in a single story that pushes ever forward while being born back ever into the past.

It's not perfect, though: while the book gets more ambitious in the exploration of its themes in its second half, when we reach New Orleans, it also becomes less focused and perhaps a bit overwrought. It's not a long book, but it could do with being shorter – F. Scott Fitzgerald's tight cutting is sadly not carried across.

Thematically fascinating but narratively baggy, "Nick" is worth your time as long as you hold onto the fact that its repetition is not always to purpose.
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Nick, by Michael Farris Smith, is the story of Nick Carraway, the narrator of F.Scott Fitzgerald's classic ,"The Great Gatsby". At the time of reading "Nick" I hadn't read "The Great Gatsby" so had no idea what to expect, Farris Smith is one of my favourite authors however so I knew I was in safe hands.
Nick Carraway is bored with small town America and dreading living a "scripted" life of working in then owning the family store. He joins the Army when America joins WW1 and finds himself risking his life tunnelling under enemy lines,a job with a very short life expectancy. Nick appears to have inherited his mother's depression and his war experiences leave also him with what would be recognised now as PTSD ,but serve to further isolate him from society. After a doomed love affair Nick returns to America after the war but rather than going home goes to New Orleans a wreck of man assuring his family that he's been side-tracked from coming home and is having a great time. New Orleans is a hive of vice,depravity and poverty and Nick finds himself in the company of other equally flawed people.
This is a great,if very dark, book that took me a couple of chapters to get into but gripped me when I did. There's not much sunshine in this book, life has kicked most of the characters in the teeth and  most of the main characters are damaged people, not least Nick. 
One result of reading this book was that on finishing it I immediately read the Kindle version of "The Great Gatsby", a free download at the time of reviewing "Nick". In his introduction Farris Smith tells of his relationship with that book and why Nick Carroway held so much fascination for him as a character. I found Farris Smith's Nick a lot more introspective and affected by his experiences, F.Scott Fitzgerald's original didn't appear to have any demons or at least the signs of psychological damage shown by the later version don't appear.
Back to the Michael Farris Smith book,it's a great read,I've yet to read one of his books that hasn't been,  and while it's bleak and certainly not a barrel of laughs it's a great piece of work.

Thanks to Michael Farris Smith, Oldcastle Books and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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A long-awaited follow up to The Great Gatsby... from Nick's point of view?! I'm in. When I first read the original, Nick was a character that I grew to love/hate (I studied it for 3 years, so I'm pretty sure I know it better than any other book that I've read lol), so I was so excited to learn more about the character.

First off: Smith gets Nick's voice so right. This feels like a true prequel to The Great Gatsby and he's truly honoured Fitzgerald's legacy in doing so. His descriptions of Nick's experiences in the trenches during the First World War are horrific, evocative and believable. You'll instantly be transported to 20th century France in this book.

Equally, when Nick returns to the US, his descriptions are just as vivid. Smith's use of flashbacks is an incredibly clever way of adding depth to a character we already know so little about. He brings Nick to life, from apathetic narrator to a realistic man, torn by the horrors of what he has seen.

Smith doesn't focus too heavily on The Great Gatsby in this novel either. It is truly a unique tribute to the Classic original, peppered with Easter eggs that add to the experience of reading even more. If you're a fan of Gatsby, you have to read this book.

Also - shoutout to the cover designer for the reference to the Doctor T.J. Eckleburg billboard in the original. My symbolism-loving heart appreciated that!
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Dark and compelling! I couldn't put this down. It was so well written with richly drawn and tragic characters, I could see it and smell it all so clearly. 
I haven't read the Great Gatsby but I feel I need to now, just to see how this links. 
The only very minor criticism would be to change the title as the story is not just from Nick's POV. 
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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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 events including war, PTSD, revenge, love, prohibition and criminality, redemption... the ending has Nick poised on the cusp of meeting Jay Gatsby but otherwise there's no connection between the books. Not that I wanted trite links but actually I don't know why this is linked to Gatsby at all: it could be about any young American. Sorry, not really for me.
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The ARC of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. #NickNovel #NetGalley.
This book was daring, to say the least. Deciding to write a book that acts as a prequel to one of the most beloved American Classics was a bold move and thankfully it paid off here. I found myself immediately enthralled by the writing and poetic nature of the storytelling within this novel. Nick, a character often overlooked within The Great Gatsby (aside from his role as the unreliable narrator), is given a purpose here. We learn about him before he's known as Gatsby's friend and neighbour. It was a refreshing take to read about his life during the war and shortly after, something that I felt was explored with great detail. The descriptions of the trenches and the battles of the war were harrowing and a stark contrast against the luxury of Paris (and what is later to become Nick's life in New York). Although I found a few of the side characters to fall a bit flat, perhaps due to lack of development, the majority of them were interesting and added a bonus to the unfolding narrative.
I appreciate the added information this gave me surrounding Nick and when I reread The Great Gatsby again I know this prequel will be stuck in the back of my mind, giving more depth to a character that's held my attention for years.
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