After garnering much attention on his tumblr blog for excerpts from his novel that he had posted, Nick Miller decided to attempt to find the money to publish his book via a Kickstarter campaign. The funding campaign was successful and the book published and now almost a year later the book is collecting even more attention.
With an ambitious title taken from the last line in the Ernest Hemingway novel “The Sun Also Rises,” Miller’s debut novel follows protagonist Jake Reed, a disillusioned blogger and struggling writer . After his grandmother dies, leaving him with a substantial inheritance, or from Jake’s perspective, the means to live while he finds himself.
Jake Reed wanders through various places in California, living in apartments and hotels as he meets various locals and peers into their lives. He makes bonds with characters that are crazy and hedonistic and adopts their lifestyles. Sometimes he serves to ground the characters and other times characters seem to ground Reed. He floats through various living conditions, obviously on a quest for meaning in his life.
The book begins and ends in the same place, and one sees Reed throughout the novel stripped of his various preconceptions, the search for what seems to him some complex meaning, becomes simpler and laid bare after each chapter. Miller takes great care with Reed, letting him arrive at his conclusions through trial and error, discovering his principles like a small child discovers that the burner on a stove is hot.
In this way, one grows with the protagonist, seeing each option of each vital decision in Reed’s travels and why he chooses the path he does. The novel is a thoughtful meditation on what love and loss is, and how the two wind around each other so tightly. Miller deftly avoids clichés by creating strong bonds between characters, which rise above the anthem of the age-old tale of the struggling writer.
The novel is highly relatable and powerfully emotional, and it begs for a second read-through.