“So a star explodes and creates this light – so brilliant, so powerful, so bright that it shines more spectacularly than every other star in the sky combined, but just briefly – then it’s gone. A black hole. Nothing can escape. No light. But during that brief amount of time it might be the single most powerful thing in the entire universe-nothings shines brighter.”
I have a friend who goes by the name of Gene. In the real world his name is Gleb but due to his many wonderful insecurities, he took the name Gene. It was not long before the name Gene became part of an equally strong pseudonym –geneticsupernova.
That is not the point, this piece of writing is all about Nick Miller and his new book, but there is a reason why the quote stuck with me. The supernova, this beautiful creation of light and destruction of a star, when everything stops, is a wonderful experience. Us people also happen to experience supernovas. It is that timeframe when everything changes, everything shines a brighter color. It is bound to end, everything does, but time is irrelevant.
This book, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” is just that, a supernova of emotions and melancholic struggle. The difference is that it will hopefully reignite again with every other person who will get to read the book. Everything about this book feels real, the loneliness of thinking, the relationship to the narrators’ grandmother, the awkwardness of human relationships, the music of this generation and especially the sudden sparks of kindness that happen when you least expect them. It is a piece for all those who just didn’t do what their mothers wished, never became those lawyers or great doctors.
Ironically, it was Gene who introduced me to Nick’s work, he was just another tumblr page trying to get attention. It was working for him; his first words spoke about his romantic relationship with a prostitute named Tatiana. Who wouldn’t be intrigued? I automatically jumped to conclusions, thinking of Charles Bukowski and his ways but it turned out to be quite different. It turned out to be a “coming of age” novel for the neurotic and struggling creative youth of the 21st century.
I do not know if he is the next Bukowski or maybe more of a Salinger, but you got to give it to him. In the form of Jake Reed, Nick Miller managed to share insights into what many feel but rarely anyone mentions. That way, creating a strong bond with his readers.
“I already known I wasn’t a good sleep, but I soon discovered that trying in a bed made it even more difficult for me-something about the planning part of falling asleep ruined it.”
The narrators’ relationship to his grandmother stuck with me. Nowadays you meet less and less young people who feel like they have a strong bond to their family and are completely immersed in a world of many friendships, which will probably not last. But that is another story. Of course, not every grandma can leave you a beachfront house in Southern California, which adds a little too much of the “creative but fortunate enough to support themselves” story but the focus on the emotions still stays.
I am not sure if it’s a cheap trick or simply honest representation of youth but it was good to read a book where recent music is mentioned, i.e. Sigur Ros. No matter whether you hate all modern music, or you favor the special ones, music is inseparable from the modern youth. The interesting part here is that if you actually play the song mentioned by the narrator while reading, it makes you feel closer to what you’re actually reading. Or maybe that’s just me.
The social media and telephones; in every scene there are people, young people obsessed with the technology and not so much the party was a nice touch. This probably reaches the peak with the DJ that spends most of his day posting things and hoping to generate the most likes. There is no doubt about young writers, photographers, and artists embracing social media. There is a blogger in every one of you; the question is why we do it. The more noble ones do it out of necessity of exposure and would generally not care of anyone sees their work but they got to earn money somehow. The more honest ones maybe agree that people in the creative industry have a larger than normal desire for recognition and social media is fueling just that. I think that it has to do with the fact that we’re lonelier than ever. Seven billion people in the world and people are more torn apart, maybe even more egoistic, me included. So writing, sharing and hoping to find someone to appreciate what we do is just part of us nowadays. Miller shows just that.
I have recently criticized a magazine that just came out, for not being critical enough. Staying true to that sentiment, there was one aspect of the novel that bothered me. The meeting with Tatiana felt so abrupt, so otherworldly and almost too well placed. The problem is not the event itself but the words that followed up to it. The whirlwind of emotions was so strong that in my opinion it deserved a more honorable introduction. Maybe that’s just me.
One question remains, is this a brilliant book that catches the mood of a new generation of creative young people struggling with family, with drugs, with understanding the other sex. Or is it a book full of clichés? I am not a professional critic, but I can say one thing, by the time I go to the death of Henry, I cried. I also read the book in the matter of hours, that didn’t happen to me since the times of the Harry Potter frenzy. Please, just read it, even if you just want to know how it is to live in West Hollywood or you enjoy reading about fragile Ukrainian girls named Tatiana. The book should get its chance.