Thy Neighbor: A Novel

( 3 )


Norah Vincent’s first two books—the New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man and Voluntary Madness—were masterworks of immersion journalism. Now Vincent unleashes her considerable talents in a spellbinding novel that’s as provocative and absorbing as her acclaimed nonfiction.

            Since his parents’ violent deaths thirteen years ago, Nick Walsh has been living alone in his childhood home, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. ...

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Thy Neighbor

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Norah Vincent’s first two books—the New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man and Voluntary Madness—were masterworks of immersion journalism. Now Vincent unleashes her considerable talents in a spellbinding novel that’s as provocative and absorbing as her acclaimed nonfiction.

            Since his parents’ violent deaths thirteen years ago, Nick Walsh has been living alone in his childhood home, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. Deranged by his relentless sorrow, he begins spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones. As he observes all the strange, sad, and terrifying things that people do when they think no one is watching, Nick begins to unravel the shocking truth about how and why his parents died.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Thy Neighbor

"Norah Vincent  will make you laugh while she is breaking your heart, and make you feel pity as you recoil in disgust. At once a misanthropic rant, a voyeuristic free for all, and a philosophic thriller, Thy Neighbor is a book that you will tear through in a few days and chew on for a long time thereafter. It's a heady and wonderful read."  —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“One of our smartest and most original journalists has changed hats, and the new one fits her perfectly. A raging, jolting, arrestingly hard-edged novel of paranoia and revenge in the suburbs, Thy Neighbor crackles with ferocious energy and virtuosic phrasemaking. If you go for noir, prepare to be plunged into the desperate darkness of a world full of lost souls and lost hope—but keep one eye peeled for the glimmer of light at the far end of the tunnel.”  —Terry Teachout

Publishers Weekly
In Vincent’s disappointing fiction debut, narrator Nick, equally misanthropic and self-hating, drinks all night and feels sorry for himself all day (“Depressed? Destroyed? Crushed beneath the boot heel of fate? Why, yes. I suppose so”)—not without cause, perhaps, considering the horrific family crime that derailed his comfortable suburban existence more than a decade ago. He continues to reside in the home in which the crime happened, and to distract himself from his misery, he enlists a cable TV installer to plant hidden recording equipment in his ill-behaved neighbors’ bedrooms, bathrooms, and anywhere else that might provide a chance for Nick to see something awful (which, of course, he does). When Nick, desperate to get out of his own head, befriends his one decent neighbor, Mrs. Bloom, a widow with no family who suffered a tragedy years ago, he discovers the heartbreaking event that links her life and his. But what part in all this does the dangerously unhappy family next door play? We’ll have to wait and see. Vincent’s prose is choppy and overwrought, the characters for the most part unpleasant. This is a disappointing foray into psychological fiction from a journalist known for the high-concept nonfiction books Self-Made Man and Voluntary Madness. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This first novel by the author of nonfiction works Self-Made Man and Voluntary Madness is an absorbing psychological mystery about Nick Walsh, a thirtysomething resident of a Midwestern suburb who lost both his parents in a mysterious murder-suicide more than a decade ago. He is still wallowing in self-pity and inertia, drinking himself daily into oblivion, hanging out at a singles bar with his rich and seedy friend Dave, and carrying on an affair with a woman named Monica, about whom he knows nothing. Out of boredom, Nick begins to spy on his neighbors, planting electronic devices in their houses and viewing them on a computer in his basement, witnessing, among other things, disintegrating marriages and nightmarish parental discipline. Mysterious notes begin appearing in his house, followed up by an anonymous contact on Facebook from someone who wants to talk about his past. Nick begins to piece together clues provided by his nameless correspondent and discovers that his aloof lawyer father and his mother, a bored housewife with a Ph.D. in English literature, were hiding more than just their disdain for suburban Midwestern life. VERDICT The author has constructed an involving if occasionally overwrought story. The depiction of depraved excesses, along with some of the neighbors' more bizarre behavior, provides a vivid and warped background as the novel delves into the characters' motivations and emotions with empathy and acuity. [See Prepub Alert, 2/5/12.]—Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123668
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,464,377
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Norah Vincent

Norah Vincent is a former op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times whose books include Self-Made Man and Voluntary Madness. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review: "Thy Neighbor" by Norah Vincent was some r


    "Thy Neighbor" by Norah Vincent was some read from the start to the finish. There is a lot to absorb in this read from Nick Walsh. I found him truly a sad person...why? Well apart from the fact that he was jobless, his parents had died in a apparent murder-suicide at home....with him now spying on his neighbors with via spy cameras that he installed in their homes...only to discover that he is also being watched. Then there is his home or in the local bar...why is that? Nick has a friend Dave only if you can call it that and then there is a woman who enters his life...Monica...but was she a real girlfriend..what did he know about her?

    "Thy Neighbor" moves at a very slow pace until you are able to uncover just how these tragedies are put together with these weird characters and there will be a whole lot of strangeness going on but in the end I thought it was different and definitely a original. I found it a hard novel to enjoy in that how this character was so unlikeable.. due to his cynical, disillusioned and so deeply flawed. However, why was he like this....this is where I say you must pick up this read and find out what this novel is all about. Be prepared to be disturbed from the read that could make one uncomfortable...and some of the scenes were somewhat disgusting. This is not a quick read so be prepared. I am not saying this in a negative way...for it took me a while to get into this storyline of its development of this particular human behaviour.

    Now if you are interested in a different type of read you have come to the right page. I must say due to the subject matter I would only recommend this to the adult audience due to its foul language and scatological content.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014


    Sorry. Could not get thru it. I like weird books but this one is kind of beyond that. Maybe just maybe would have been bearable if there was some sarcastic or self depreciating humor thrown in here or there. Don't give up mr author. Your writing is good and it was a good idea for a story. Just too depressing. Now I am going to go take a shower. I still feel a little dirty.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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