Affair by Nick Stokes: Reviewed

Affair alternates between perspectives of the Author and a character Palo. Although the Author and Palo are the same person. This isn’t something I figured out, this is something the Author told me. Although I’d already guessed it, so I suppose I did figure it out. Although I hadn’t really figured it out, the author told me. Not the Author from the book but the author who wrote the book. He didn’t tell me, either. He left it there for me to figure out. And so deftly that I felt for a while like I’d figured it out, before I figured out that he’d told me, which I also figured out.

Palo meets a woman while he’s out picking up sticks to sell for stones. The Author’s wife accuses the Author of hiding out by engaging in solipsism and calling it writing which might be accurate but is it fair? These are questions the book asks but are they answered? I’m still waiting to find out if I figured this book out from what Palo told me or the Author told me or what the author told me or if what I figured out was what I told me.

As the story progresses, Palo and the Author’s stories entwine until it’s hard to tell who is who. By then you’re in the story. No, literally. You are in the story. This would maybe be a little uncomfortable except that you find yourself in the capable hands of the author, who might be in the story with you, or maybe isn’t, but you feel like he is, which is all you need.

Please allow this review to pique your interest enough to sample the opening pages of Affair by Nick Stokes. I did and enjoyed them enough that I ordered the paperback. I read it twice, enjoyed it the first time, and enjoyed it even more the second.

Nick Stokes is someone I “met” in my writing class in Seattle, back in 2002 or 3 or 4? A while ago. I put met in quotes because I’m not entirely sure we ever had a conversation. I remember enjoying his story when the class critiqued it, but that didn’t make him stand out because I enjoyed all the stories the class critiqued. He stood out because he gave an insightful critique of my story from that class, which I still have. He managed a trick I hadn’t yet learned, which was to critique like a reader who knows how to write instead of like a writer. I think I learned that trick later after I’d been meeting with the group who critiqued my first novel, Flowers on Concrete, although it’s a tough trick to pull off and I still struggle to manage it. Nick is also a playwright. He is at work on an (anti)-choose-your-own-adventure novel. Check out Affair here:

Affair was originally serialized by Seattle Star, an online literary magazine, their page here:

Links below from wordpress


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