The Beautiful Miscellaneous
Dominic Smith
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *The Beautiful Miscellaneous* by Dominic Smith online

The Beautiful Miscellaneous
Dominic Smith
336 pages
June 2007
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

buy this book now or browse millions of other great products at
previous reviewnext review

Expectations and acceptance – parents demand the former, children crave the latter. Nathan Nelson, the only child of two brilliant parents, is himself a bright boy, but he is not the prodigy for which his parents had hoped. His socially inept physicist father, Samuel, amuses himself with trigonometry, quarks and Thelonius Monk. His homemaker mother is a gourmet cook and news junkie who leads an exotic travel group. Their home is different from other people’s, even if only the Nelsons themselves regard it that way. For instance, instead of a couch, they sit on a divan. Rather than wearing pants, Samuel prefers trousers.

Nathan is resentful of his parents’ fervent hopes for his future - so resentful that he deliberately gives the wrong answer to the final question at his school’s science quiz just to emphasize that he is not the genius they are training him to be. To Nathan, geniuses ‘were small-framed men, bespectacled and loping; they had bad taste in shoes, were prone to gravy stains and tweed.’

For his tenth birthday, Samuel and Nathan fly to California. In his heart, Nathan believes his father is taking him to Disneyland. Instead, they visit the Stanford Linear Accelerator - Samuel’s idea of fun is to smash atoms. Taught by Jesuits at a private school, Nathan tries to fit in but usually fails. It is impossible for him to live up to the expectations that surround him. The only person in Nathan’s life who seems to openly accept him is his father’s colleague, Whit, a former astronaut and the source of a few comic moments in the story.

At age 17, Samuel and Whit take Nathan to visit his paternal grandfather, a simple man with simple faith, a faith he wants Samuel to share and pass down to Nathan. Samuel claims to be an atheist, much to the disappointment of Pop. On his way home from church with his grandfather, who has opened a few beers in the car during the drive, an oncoming truck strikes them. Nathan is seriously injured and experiences momentary clinical death. He is in a coma for several weeks following the accident. His grandfather, whom he’d seen being ejected from the vehicle upon impact, is killed. When Nathan awakes, it is found that he had synesthesia – a condition resulting in staggering memory capability and causing him to ‘see’ spoken words in color and form, even smell them. Nathan’s accident has, in Samuel’s eyes, turned his average son into the genius he’s always wanted.

Nathan is taken to the Brook-Mills Institute for Talent Development where, a bit like a trained monkey, he is asked to perform tricks based on his enhanced memory. Here he meets an array of savant-like individuals – Toby, the blind concert pianist; Arlen, the crime-solving psychic; and Teresa, the medical intuitive, among others. It is Teresa, with whom Nathan falls in love, who discovers a secret that will eventually redirect and salvage the relationship between Nathan and his father.

Nathan eventually comes to terms with his unique talent. It is with the aid of his accident-induced skills that Nathan gains an understanding of the complexity of his parents’ relationship with each other and with him. And it is through this understanding that he is able to finally and fully accept them and love them without expectations.

This is truly one of the best coming-of-age novels I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Elaine Pontious, 2007

Also by Dominic Smith:

buy *The Beautiful Miscellaneous* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.