Thy Neighbor

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From the New York Times bestselling author, a first novel as spellbinding as her acclaimed nonfiction

At thirty-four, Nick Walsh is a broken, deeply cynical man. Since the violent deaths of his parents thirteen years earlier, he has been living alone in his childhood home in the suburban Midwest, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. A measure of solace is provided by his newly found relationship with Monica, a mysterious ...

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Thy Neighbor

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Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author, a first novel as spellbinding as her acclaimed nonfiction

At thirty-four, Nick Walsh is a broken, deeply cynical man. Since the violent deaths of his parents thirteen years earlier, he has been living alone in his childhood home in the suburban Midwest, drinking, drugging, and debauching himself into oblivion. A measure of solace is provided by his newly found relationship with Monica, a mysterious woman who seems to harbor as many secrets as he does.

Obsessed with understanding the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths and deranged by his relentless sorrow, Nick begins a campaign of spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones he has covertly installed in their houses. As he observes with amusement and disbelief all the strange, sad, and terrifying things that his neighbors do to themselves and to one another, and as he, in turn, learns that he is being stalked, he begins to slowly unravel the shocking truth about how and why his parents died.

At once unsettling and moving, humorous and horrifying, Thy Neighbor explores the nature of grief, the potential isolation of suburban life, and who we really are when we think no one is watching. What readers and critics have admired in Norah Vincent’s nonfiction is completely unleashed in this vivid and provocative novel.

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Editorial Reviews

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
At 34, Nick Walsh still lives in his Midwest suburban childhood home—though his parents died violently 13 years earlier and he's been self-medicating since. As he spies on his neighbors, using cameras and microphones he has surreptitiously installed, he begins to understand what happened to his parents. Then he learns that someone is stalking him. This first novel by the author of nonfiction best sellers like Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man sounds at once spooky and thought-provoking and should attract some attention.
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
Kirkus Reviews
For any reader still suffering from the delusion that suburbia is Eden, this debut novel explores the sinister side, where "a dark shadow lay just on the other side of the picket fence." Though Vincent has attracted attention with her nonfiction (Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man, 2006, etc.), this book will challenge the reader to get a handle on just what sort of novel it is, and it reads as if its author wrestled with a similar challenge. At its most clichéd, it's a social indictment of modern suburbia--its broken families, its secrets behind those manicured lawns, its desperate promiscuity, its obsession with Facebook. But it's also a whodunit, or at least a whydunit, as narrator Nick Walsh, an alcoholic, unemployed writer in his mid-30s, attempts to solve the mystery of his parents' murder-suicide. Why did Nick's father kill his mother and then himself? Was the unhinged Nick more responsible than he lets on, or even understands? Is he criminal or casualty or both? Nick identifies a little too much with Hamlet, while recognizing that "Any spoiled kid who has a vaguely philosophical bent, serious daddy issues, and a bleak outlook on life has thought of himself as Hamlet and thought himself mighty profound and soulful for doing so." The novel (or Nick) tends to deal in generalizations and stereotypes ("You know the breed."), while reducing practically every supporting character to a plot device. "How many horrible things are going on right now in any one of these houses?" he asks, though he is in a better position than most to know, since he has had cameras and microphones installed in the houses of his neighbors, which he monitors from his basement (again, more plot device than plausible). Ultimately, another mystery emerges, though the savvy reader is likely to untangle a crucial question of identity well before clueless Nick does. The results fall through the categorical cracks, with the book succeeding neither as page-turning mystery nor as sharp social criticism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670023745
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • Publication date: 8/2/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Norah Vincent was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1968. Formerly an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, she is the author of two previous works of nonfiction, the New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man and Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Health-Care System. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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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



    Review:


    "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 drinking..at 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

    Ugh

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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