COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Time nurtures intimacy.
Michael Farris Smith didn’t understand the impact of that notion until five years ago when he re-read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby.”
Smith admitted “he didn’t really get” Fitzgerald’s story of characters living in fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg in Long Island in the summer of 1922 when he first read it as a teenager. But Smith’s decision to re-read “The Great Gatsby” helped him to see how the experiences of Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story, related to his life and then fueled his desire to do something creative and imaginative with his life.
“Each page seemed to speak to me,” Smith said after reading “The Great Gatsby” again. “When Nick admitted he was on the edge of a decade of loneliness, I remembered myself at that age, and feeling those same things. I wanted to explore what got him there.”
Smith’s foray into those memories, questions and curiosities has produced “NICK,” a new novel that explores Nick Carraway’s life before “The Great Gatsby.”
“This was a towering project, something I knew carried a lot of weight,” said Smith, an associate professor of English at Mississippi University for Women, “but it was something I was going to do no matter what.”
“NICK” will be released Jan. 5, 2021, in the United States and Feb. 25, 2021, in the United Kingdom, Australia and all other English rights territories. A book trailer for “NICK” can be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_IpCW-l7qg&feature=youtu.be
Smith collaborated with Joe York, a filmmaker in Water Valley, on the book trailer.
“Joe has a great eye and great imagination,” Smith said. “I thought the trailer captured the essence of the novel with full effect.”
Smith said he didn’t do much research for “NICK” other than reading “The Great Gatsby.” He said the fact that there isn’t much known about Nick -- he was turning 30, he fought in World War I and he was from the Midwest -- gave him the notion to create Carraway and to give him the same imagination he would give any character, even though it was a different experience in that he had to relate to what was already there.
Smith said “NICK” is a departure from “Blackwood,” his previous novel, but he said he enjoys having “separate conversations” about each novel, and that he feels it’s important to keep going different places, chasing different ideas and challenging different emotions.
“That’s what art is supposed to do,” Smith said.
Smith is the author of “The Fighter,” “Desperation Road,” “Rivers,” and “The Hands of Strangers.” His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with “Esquire,” “Southern Living,” “Book Riot” and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with the “New York Times,” “Bitter Southerner,” “Writer’s Bone” and more.
Smith said “Rumble Through the Dark,” the film adaptation of “The Fighter,” is schedule to shoot this spring. He adapted the script and has three other novels under option to be made into films.