It’s time for my second installment in this year’s Canada Reads series. Today’s book: Nikolski by Nicolas Dicker.
I like this book quite a bit. It tells the story of three nomad type characters who all find themselves in Montreal in the 90s.
Though I found the characters a little hard to keep track of, I did like catching little hints at how they were connected (some knowledge of Montreal may help in this regard), and I liked following their stories. I found both Noah and Joyce quite endearing, Noah for his childhood and connection to his mother, Joyce for her odd ambitions. The third character never quite settled in my mind, but he only made rare appearances. Strangely, the namesake of the book made very little appearance either, except as one of those interesting threads that connect people.
I’ve often thought that the real test of the quality of a book is how much I remember a year or so later. There isn’t a lot in the way of story—I’d be hard pressed to say what actually happens over the course of the book even now, a day after finishing it—but at the same time I don’t feel like there was really any plot missing. What will stick in my mind for a while is that image of Noah in a room by himself, pouring over a map wondering where his mother is, and another of Joyce dressed in black, “fishing” in the business district of Montreal.
The only bad thing about the book was that it felt slightly unfinished. I wanted there to be more resolution than there was, some recognition between the three characters. Something explicit along the lines of a tearful reunion (not that any of them had been united in the past) would have been out of place, but something subtle, a spark of realization in at least one of them, might have sealed things nicely. Although, I must admit, the Three Headed Book and the scene at Newark came pretty close to being exactly that.
Oh, the other thing I didn’t like was the whole bit with Venezuela. It stuck out a bit from the rest of the book.
Still, the book had a nice mood with characters I felt connected to, in a setting I can picture quite well. It was definitely a good read, and I’m not sure how I might compare it to Fall on Your Knees, which I also liked. They are two very different books. I will have to mull that over a bit, and let myself be swayed by the advocates when Canada Reads airs.