Nick Miller’s debut novel treads familiar, if not unwelcome, territory
You know how the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Or, in this case, when life throws you into the deep end, write a book about it.
Nick Miller’s new book, Isn’t It Pretty To Think So, details the life of a 20-something stuck in something of a quarter-life crisis. It is the signature cry of our millennial generation: wide-eyed and fresh out of college, heads filled with dreams of a glossy future, greeted instead by a terrible recession. Miller’s book takes all that comes with this territory, and gives us Jake Reed – a 20-something young adult stuck with an uninspiring job and as existential a crisis as a bored, privileged graduate can have. Jack is taking some time off to focus on himself.
The story is as simple as this. Young man travels up and down the West Coast of America, hopping from a small beach town to West Hollywood to shiny downtown L.A. – with all of the accompanying vices and hard drugs we might expect from a trip like this. Eventually Jack sobers up when he meets a prostitute named Tatiana and finds himself slowly easing back into his old routines.
At times, Miller’s writing makes you wonder about the hedonistic, hard-partying ways of our post-Gen-X generation, armed with a huge bundle of student loan debt and a vague sense of purpose about The Future. The personal and fictional familiarity of this subject matter turns out to bring with it stabs of annoyance, simply because Miller has painted such an unrealistic picture.
There are a lot of references to Ernest Hemingway in the book – as the title, “isn’t it pretty to think so” is a line from The Sun Also Rises. Miller seems to be taking his cues from Hemingway, along with that other great of the American Novel, John Steinbeck, and a few hints at D.H Lawrence and Marcel Proust.
Isn’t It Pretty dips its toe into the lives of our millennial generation and our inability to reconcile a world of real-life events and an increasingly absorbing digital realm. However, Miller somehow seems to try too hard to glaze his sentences with flowery language and an abundance of overly descriptive words – taking us, in fact, ever further away from a grounded, recognizable reality.
With this minor quibble aside, Miller shows that he might just be a promising new talent in the literary field.
Isn’t It Pretty To Think So, by Nick Miller, Fernando French Publishing, (2012)