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"The Nest" Is THE THING



Amazon Book Review: The NestPretty much every year, there's a book that becomes THE THING, the one literary-but-mainstream title everybody all of a sudden seems to be reading, or at least talking about reading. A couple of years ago, that book was The Art of Fielding, then it was The Goldfinch, then All the Light We Cannot See, and so on. (I'm not talking Gone Girl or 50 Shades, for now – they're more what the publishing world calls "genre.") In retrospect, it's easy to see how these books became the talk of the town: they got a lot of good reviews, and their publishers worked the publicity machines/reviewers well in advance of publication and then at publication. Also, maybe the books were even good.

In the next few weeks, we're going to find out if Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's The Nest is this year's THING.

Rumored to have cost publisher Ecco (part of HarperCollins) around $1 Million, this debut novel has a lot going for it. The story of four adult siblings who have lived their lives expecting a sizable inheritance, it examines what happens when one of them messes up so spectacularly he has to drain the fund (known in the family as the Nest.) It's a provocative premise, for sure, and its author is a first-timer, (albeit a 50-something-year-old first-timer who is married to the head writer for late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien.) It has gotten great advance "blurbs" from the likes of Amy Poehler, and friend Jill Soloway – creator of the prizewinning TV series Transparent – gave her stamp of approval at a lunch/interview the publisher hosted for the press a few months ago. Pre-publication reviews – a star in mighty Kirkus, lots 'o love at Goodreads – are already logged. In other words, everything is "lining up," as they say in Publishing Land, for The Nest to succeed.

But... as every publisher and many readers can tell you, just when you think you've got the whole publishing thing figured out, you figure out that you don't. In other words, the world is littered with books that had "everything lined up" that didn't "work" in terms of making a splash (and, not incidentally, a lot of money in sales.) I'm thinking about a much-hyped and very expensive debut novel called Everybody Rise that didn't capture the reading world's hearts despite an interesting story (Edith Wharton in the 21st century), a terrifically winning young author, a TON of advance publicity, and a beautiful cover. Likewise City on Fire, which also got a big advance, glowing advance reviews, and tons of other press; it sold only o-kay. Of course, part of the problem with these books (and potentially with The Nest) is the size of their advances; as the word gets out about big-money buys, so too do the expectations go up – and sometimes insiders and hoi polloi alike find themselves jealous, annoyed, and super-critical. It's as if they want to prove the insiders wrong. In the case of The Nest, too, there's the celebrity factor – Conan O'Brien, etc. – that can be deemed jealous-making and irksome.

Still, the Editorial Team at Amazon remains bullish on The Nest. Why? Because – get this – the book is actually good. Not War and Peace, maybe, but both light and not-so-light, deeper and more complex than any plot summary would make you think, and extremely observant and wise about the way we (or some of us) live now. We made it the Debut Spotlight in our Best of the Month feature because every single one of us who read it loved it. We all agreed it was both relatable and surprising, which is a killer combination, especially for people like us who read dozens of books a month and think we've seen it all. We weren't unaware that it was about a privileged group of people with "luxury problems," as opposed to, say, a sweet story about a good-at-heart Nazi-in-the-making and a blind French girl (All the Light We Cannot See). There will be naysayers, we knew – in fact, there already are some – but we're expecting that readers will put their money where our mouths are, and buy this delightful book.


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