“Thy Neighbor” by Norah Vincent
Sometimes I have new mom brain. It took me until I was about halfway through reading Norah Vincent’s “Thy Neighbor” to realize I’d read a previous book of Vincent’s — her non-fiction memoir, “Voluntary Madness,” about a year spent in America’s mental health system.
I’m pleased to say that “Thy Neighbor,” her fiction debut, is as powerful as her bestselling non-fiction.
Guys, “Thy Neighbor” is a messed up book. I mean that as a compliment. Our narrator, Nick, lives a life of booze and excess after the murder-suicide of his parents thirteen years earlier. He’s such a destroyed person, he’s spying on all his neighbors — like, has cameras in their houses. His neighbors, meanwhile, are a screwed-up bunch. It’s amazing what goes on behind the walls of picture-perfect suburbia. Nick’s inner thoughts brought Holden Caulfield, of “The Catcher in the Rye,” to mind several times. He’s a tortured soul — though it’s mostly self-torturing. Not that anyone around him is living a world of sunshine and lollipops. There’s child abuse and infidelity and bad people and missing people. It’s a dark, dark world that our Nick inhabits. No wonder he’s a wreck of a person.
I look forward to whatever Norah Vincent writes next. She’s proven herself as a non-fiction author, and “Thy Neighbor” is a powerful and gripping debut.