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Gods of Aberdeen: A Novel Paperback – July 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Micah is a frequent contributor to Vanity Fair, and his essays and short stories have appeared in the Paris Review, The Best American Mystery Stories, Boston Globe Magazine, Glimmer Train, Free Inquiry, Gettysburg Review, and others.
Top Customer Reviews
I didn't want to like this book. I wanted to snicker at what I believed was an obvious riding-of-the-coattails. "Rule of Four," "Prep," you name it, it's already been done, right? And then I opened the first page...and Nathan had me at "I remember Aberdeen College well."
Call me a sucker for good prose. Call me easily seduced by brutally honest portayals of spoiled youth. Call me a fan of writers who take a subject (in this case, alchemy) I know absolutely *nothing* about, and by the end of their book I feel like an expert.
Yes, this book is about the search for the Philosopher's Stone. But to place it in the category of an academic mystery would be a mistake. The Philosopher's Stone is Nathan's MacGuffin, a plot device used to show us the loss of innocence of 16 year-old Eric Dunne, a freshman at Aberdeen College. Eric's a poor orphan from New Jersey, and Aberdeen College is an ivy-covered liberal arts college in Connecticut. There's a mysterious death, a quest for the ultimate truth, and along the way Eric grows up. We grow up with him.
Alchemy is about transformation, which mirrors the central theme of this book. Eric Dunne arrives at Aberdeen College, and leaves an adult. He's heartbroken, lied to, given booze and drugs and basicallly everything else that happens to naive freshman, and we're with him all the way. Damn if this book didn't make me miss college...and also realize I'm glad college is over.
So where do I place this book among my literary faves? Surprisingly high, considering it's a debut novel from a young author.Read more ›
The interesting thing about this book is the checklist of typical themes presented in a fresh manner. Kirkus said this book makes its cliches sing together in beautiful unison, and I agree. Loss of sexual innocence? Check. Betrayal? Check. Socioeconomic divisions played out on a fancy-pants college setting? Check. Nathan didn't bore me, as I feared. Instead he took risks with well-travelled genre material, and in my opinion, his risk paid off.
So what we have here is a young, orphaned boy far more intelligent than emotionally secure, sucked into a group of other smarties at a New England college, searching for the secret to immortality. Said secret takes the form of an ancient manuscript(s), and their search for said secret occupies half the novel. The other half is occupied by the young boy's coming of age. He parties, has sex, gets confused, and makes some terrible decisions. Like I said, on paper not the most intriguing (or original) concept, but Nathan pulls it off.
I suspect some of the negative reactions to Nathan's book is a response to his uncomfortable (but nevertheless intriguing) subplot of sexual ambiguity between male friends, along with threads of sexual abuse that silently wind throughout the novel. Again, not your usual topics for a coming-of-ager, and with these sort of risks come the inevitable backlash. But what's that old saying...better to be looked over than overlooked. Nathan's writing evokes strong emotions, and I hope his next tale forges its own genre path.
Many authors seem to have a difficult time balancing plot with their literary aspirations. Not so, this book. Mr. Nathan treads the fine line between John Knowles and Dan Brown, and he does so with uncanny confidence and acumen. Gods of Aberdeen works on many levels: as a coming-of-ager it's brutally honest without resorting to maudlin/cheap laughs. As a scholarly thriller it's erudite without being stuffy, and it appeals to the highest common denominator rather than dumbing things down.
The gist of the story is this: Eric Dunne, a 16 year-old prodigy, leaves the slums of New Jersey and attends Aberdeen College. Eric, it seems, is quite the Latin expert, and attracts the attentions of Aberdeen's famous professor, Dr. Cade. Eric also attracts a group of students who are searching for the Philosopher's Stone (no, not a Harry Potter rip-off but the real deal. Nathan does a terrific job inserting medieval history and alchemy into the tale). Unfortunately this search leads to some very bad things, and Eric finds himself caught between the world of a college freshman and the world of too-smart-for-their-own-good students. Throw in some nubile coeds, a smattering of drugs and alcohol, and you have the makings of a dark collegiate thriller.
Of course there are moments when it becomes clear Mr. Nathan is a young novelist a bit too eager to strut his stuff--but we can forgive him for that because he's given us an intelligent, honest novel, with enough plot to satisfy the most jaded beach-reader, and enough character depth to please the most jaded artiste. In a publishing world where hype never fails to disappoint, this is one instance where the prose speaks for itself. A stunning debut from a gifted writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In Gods of Aberdeen, author Micah Nathan paints an evocative picture of life in a small New England liberal arts college. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Rebecca Mugridge
What an unusual topic - alchemy - to use as a major theme in a novel about a young college student finding his place in a small New England college. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Aramaia
Michah Nathan writes in a style that gives the reader a clear picture of the settings and characters. The writing style makes you believe that you are really there. Read morePublished on March 3, 2013 by Susan Cornwall
Nathan has captured the feel of those college years, the unfulfilled ambition, anxiety and anticipation that go hand-in-hand with trying to make your way among academic peers. Read morePublished on January 10, 2007 by Pburt
Bought this book because of the comparisons to my beloved TSH and the alleged connections to Rule of Four, and found it akin to neither. Read morePublished on May 4, 2006 by Corey Blum
Aloha! This review is coming from the island of Oahu. To put it simply this book was was of the most stimulating reads I have had in a long time. Read morePublished on August 22, 2005 by Christopher J. Kidawski
Whoaa! This book has gotten some fine reviews here. But I agree with Mr/Ms "Boonie." The picture of academia is an unbelievable caricature. You might as well make Dr. Read morePublished on August 7, 2005 by Tater
I digged this book -- some college hijinks, a search for an ancient manuscript, and a young genius narrator. Read morePublished on August 6, 2005 by AvidReader
Gods of Aberdeen starts out with an intruiging plot (search for the Philosopher's stone) and an interesting protagonist (orphan from both the country AND the big bad city). Read morePublished on July 28, 2005 by K. Rogers