An always-outsider crashes a wedding blog in this darkly comic novel of internet obsession, unrequited love, and isolation.
Charli and Nico’s wedding blog has an uninvited guest: a commenter convinced the bride is being romanced by the brother of the groom. To save her from a terrible mistake, he assumes multiple identities on multiple message boards, sharing, in an extended, epic blog comment, his fears for Charli, his outrage at being thwarted, and the romance, years ago in his analog past, that first attracted his meddlesome care.
Cranky, hilarious, and incisive, The More You Ignore Me takes on Internet etiquette, the distortions of voyeurism, and the incessant, expansive flow of words that may not be able to staunch loneliness, but holds out the hope of talking it to death.
Listen to a Better Book Titles interview with Nichols here.
Read Nichols’ interview with Paul Killebrew here.
Read Nichols’ interview with reKiosk here.
“Nichols is brilliant in capturing the wheedling tone, aggravating escalation and stultifying self-involvement of Internet trolls. . . . [R]aw enough to bring the dark laughter of recognition.” —Star Tribune
“An experimental novel of obsession and violation that makes Nicholson Baker and Mark Leyner look positively banal.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The unhinged narrator of Nichols’s amusing second novel . . . is a self-styled ‘online justice-seeker and truth-teller.’ . . . Nichols writes brawny prose and has an easy touch with humor.” —Publishers Weekly
“Addressing the internet’s ability to unite and divide us at once, magnified by the emboldening power of anonymity and the persuasive gravity of voyeurism, Nichols presents one more serious consideration of personal bias assisted and afflicted by technology.” —Denver Examiner
“[T]here’s something admirable about the way Nichols allows his character the indignity of his prickly tendencies without validating them via sympathetic flashback. . . . The More You Ignore Me reminds us that exploring this sense of failure can itself become the basis for art that is as alive as it is bleak.” —Bookforum
“Small publisher Coffee House consistently makes attractive books of high literary quality, and this one is no exception. Nichols’ language and humor are on-point; there are whiffs of the great satirist George Saunders throughout . . . Most significantly, the novel pokes at some interesting ideas regarding social behavior and the ways it has changed (or stayed the same) in the digital era.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“The novel’s narrator, ably fashioned by Nichols . . . possesses all of Ahab’s obsessiveness but none of his courage, can best be imagined as Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man with Internet access. . . . Nichols’s book is a contribution to the body of obsessive literature.” —The Philadelphia Review of Books
“What Mr. Nichols does brilliantly is examine the inner workings of a delusional and grandiose individual . . . on the darker side of the internet: the disconnect that longs deeply for connection, the disparate cry for acknowledgement.” —New York Journal of Books
“The More You Ignore Me, beyond being a farcical joyride of a read, also serves as a critical study of the monopolizing role the internet plays in both fostering and sating the human appetite for connection. . . . In an age in which social life can be lived through a screen entirely, to what extent do we indulge?” —KGB Bar Lit Magazine
“In linksys181, Nichols has engaged in a flabbergasting act of literary ventriloquism . . . The More You Ignore Me is a Notes from Underground by way of the Huffington Post.” —The Seattle Stranger
“Nichols . . . actually gets the tone and pitch of the troll down pat. This is a stunning book.” —Volta, “The Volta Picks”
“I had never read a novel so innovative, and Nichols wrote a character that still haunts me. I realized I loved it, and recommended it to anyone who came into the bookstore looking for an unconventional read.”—Lit Reactor, “I Hate You…No, Wait, I love You! 5 Literary 180s”
“Travis Nichols’ The More You Ignore Me features two of my favorite literary devices, an unreliable narrator and ambitious, experimental form (the novel is one long blog comment) in one of the year’s most ambitious and thought provoking novels.” —Largehearted Boy: A Music and Literature Blog, “Book Notes”
“Want a reminder what you can do with fiction? Told entirely as a blog post comment from the perspective of a dude crashing a wedding website, this psychologically-driven novel is what you’re looking for.” —Bustle
“[T]he Ignatius J. Reilly of the Internet age. Prepare yourself for an entertaining read that is funny, creepy, unsettling, sad, and super entertaining.” —WORD Bookstore Tumblr
“Nichols’ prose especially shines when relating the narrator’s ambitious project . . . Linksys181 may only have found his voice in the digital realm . . . but the ultimate roots of his discontent is something altogether understandable: a desire and passion for meaningful human connection.” —ZYZZYVA
“Imagine, for a moment, an Internet troll who writes in complete sentences. Who melds the political fire of a revolutionary with the linguistic precision of a poet. Who peppers his rants with references to Norman Mailer, Buster Keaton, and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Do that and you might be able to anticipate the spectacular, deranged protagonist of Travis Nichols’ very funny second novel, The More You Ignore Me.” —Fanzine
“The More You Ignore Me is a novel that will not be ignored. Travis Nichols channels the energies of such exemplary screeders past as Gogol’s Poprishchin, Nabokov’s Kinbote, Lish’s Lish, and Nicholson Baker’s woe-beset anthologist, Paul Chowder. Linksys181, a kind of latter-day Gollum, cries out: ‘I know I have love to give! Who will dare to take it?’ Reader, you should be the one.” —Justin Taylor
“With this hilarious and tragic novel, Travis Nichols has captured the menace and pathos and ridiculousness and dead-seriousness of the Internet so well that now I feel a little bit concerned for him. This narrator’s voice will resonate in your mind in unexpected ways forever. You’ve been warned!” —Emily Gould
Excellent point, truthkitty7, one that most certainly deserves serious consideration, but before we address it I would like to bring another matter—of equal, or, perhaps, even, yes, greater (!!!) import—to the group’s attention.
It is a personal matter, true, but it is not as far off topic as it might at first seem, and I believe counsel from this wise and judicious panel of commenters would be more than welcome.
What a word, “welcome”!
It must give warmest succor to those of you who, like me, have been heretofore shunted from society’s fellowship because of your ability (and willingness!) to express unpopular but prescient opinions clearly, forcefully, and—this is crucial—without apology.
You have my utmost sympathy, brothers (and sisters!), and so I’ll say it again: your counsel is welcome.
Take heart, fellows, and DO NOT BE AFRAID.
Yes, I have this matter of urgent and utmost importance to discuss with you, but first let me say once again how happy I am to be here on this absolutely essential, crucial, and positively required-reading blog where all opinions and viewpoints are always given the respect, attention, and consideration they so richly deserve.
The comment section here is truly as open as can be, so I know that no one will refuse me this slight digression—that I will not be turned away out of spite, prejudice, hurt feelings, or childish pride—and for this fact I give you my pre-emptive, heartfelt thanks.
Tonight, friends, we will continue in the grand tradition of online democratic society, rough, fragile experiment that it remains, in defiance of the forces dedicated to crushing it under the black boot heel of petty fascism.
Let me get straight to the point, then, for our endeavor is already in grave danger.
True, I have often hinted at this matter, but I have always hesitated bringing it fully to bear for fear of what scandalous rumors and/or slanderous opinions had perhaps crossed your screens and tainted my reception, but now I feel so strongly that for the good of our collective endeavor this issue must be brought up that I am disregarding the personal risk to my reputation such attention-bringing might afford.
This is a serious case.
I am normally as light and as carefree as the law allows, but for the past few months this matter has brought me terribly low.
You see, I have been, by a childish and ignorant member of the online community, banned.
More: My input regarding Charli and Nico’s wedding is no longer even considered for publication on their blog!
I have no idea why I’ve been banned, and no one will give me the courtesy of a proper response.
At first, I thought perhaps it was benign neglect, to re-appropriate a phrase, but I’ve since realized something much more sinister is afoot, so I’m now bringing this matter before you here on this site which still accepts me as I am in order for my case to have the fair hearing it deserves.
As I said before, scandalous rumors and libelous character assassinations have no doubt passed before your eyes, published, as ever, by the “best man,” Chris Novtalis, that sulfurous toad of a moderator, that young dullard, that tyrant erroneously allowed to be in charge out of misguided good will or charity —but please hear me out.
I am just a citizen who wishes his voice not be silenced out of, at best, cowardice.
My banishment from Charli and Nico’s wedding blog has been an immense personal loss for me since I had made so many wonderful friends and admirers through that site, and together my cortege and I made great strides towards solving a number of issues regarding problems not only of this particular marriage—but of the world.
I know that sounds grandiose, but I firmly believe that, just as Margaret Mitchell once said, “A small number of devoted individuals can, in fact, change the course of history; Indeed, this is the only thing that ever has!”—yes, in my case, just look at the record!
It is all, by some miracle, still there for the world to see, if only the world could stop pursuing vile distraction long enough to read and take note.
It is shocking to see such truths laid out in plain sight, I know, but it is even more shocking to see them ignored, though I have come to expect no less from the sad excuse for “society” we float through.
Lest you get the wrong impression, I am not so narcissistic or naive as to think you would consider my personal loss, great as it is, worthy of your in-demand time.
Not because you lack compassion!
No, don’t think I write tonight to insult you!
Fear not, despite what you have heard of me, I am not that man.
No, you wouldn’t consider my personal tragedy of much importance because I know from my patronage of this comments section that you all are spending your time working diligently to solve what you see as the great problems we all face in this fearful and horrid episode called “life.”
But hear me out—my tragedy and the world’s are not so different; no, in fact, shocking as it may sound, I believe they are ONE AND THE SAME!!!
The exclamation points, I know, seem out of place or perhaps too much, but you see I’m quite an exuberant fellow, a joyful soul, really, and I can let my emotions get the best of me like a school girl face to face with a succulent lolly, but it is all only for the greater good since, as I hope you’ll see, underneath the emotion there is cold hard reason, such that is missing greatly in this ill-begotten world of incorrigible ineptitude.
I have had so many—SO MANY!—friends and acquaintances tell me, at long last, that they see my point after all and yes, it seems, I was right all along only had exposed my solution with too bright a flash of rhetoric.
I am working on this admitted character flaw, but I hope you’ll agree that it is a relatively minor one, especially when it is often the reader’s own flaws which prevent him (or her!) from seeing my point.
A mere distraction, though.
I’m quite likable, really.
In fact, I think we could be great friends if given the chance to meet.
Someday I will arrive with a rose in my teeth to your doorsteps, each and all!
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, as I was saying: I would be perfectly willing to look past my own personal feelings of being slighted, abused, and wantonly rejected by this cruel and imagination-less dope if I weren’t able to see in my personal issue the problems of the world.
Me, a humble man of limited means, alone in life except for my vast but faraway group of online peers, simply wanted to put my modest writerly talents to use in service of gnosis.
Let me explain.
Contrary to what you might think, the fact that my banishment has become the central topic of discussion for this particular wedding and its affiliated blog does not in any way cloud my thinking about the overall concepts at play.
I see the “big picture” despite the bride’s continued silence towards me (surely kept up on the advice of the groom’s brother, the wretched best man and moderator, Chris Novtalis who fancies himself some kind of chivalrous knight instead of, accurately, a bilious nuisance), and, in fact, I did not even seek out that particular blog but rather had it thrust upon me by fate and simple geometry.
Triangles and pyramids, my dears!
Natural shapes, true, though they are not nearly as simple or as ordinary as they first appear, especially when they manifest themselves in human relationships, as they do more often than one might expect if one knows how to look.
NB: Most people in relationships believe themselves to be on lines that travel simply from point “A” to point “B” and back again.
A dull circuit, yes?
But many are in fact part of a pyramidal matrix of relationships with at least four essential points—“A,” “B,” “C,” and, crucially, “X.”
Misunderstanding the true shape of these relationships can only cause hurtful confusion, and willful attempts to force one shape into another can only lead to disaster.
Trust me, for I’ve learned the hard way.
For instance: An admirer (point “A”) directs his affection at an object (point “B”).
A common enough scenario, true, but what if this scenario becomes only slightly more complicated?
What if the object of affection (point “B”) accepts the line from point “A,” but after a few months of such tedious affection believes she is only partially understood and/or appreciated by “A,” so she seeks out another admirer (point “C”) who, “B” believes, might more fully be able to define her to and for herself?
What if “B” now has affection from both “C” and “A”?
No problem, you say, harmless since “A” and “C” may only want a little bit of “B,” but what if both “A” and “C” believe they have clean vectors to the whole of “B,” though in reality their vectors each only reach, at best, half of “B”?
Oh ho, then they will exist in a veil of confusion that will surely precipitate catastrophe!
Point “B” is holding back her totality from each other point in order to maintain the illusion of single lines, of dull circuitry, as if a safe falsity were preferable to a difficult truth, and in this way she is contributing to the cycles of suffering rampant in this dim interval called life.
She is cruel.
But we can’t blame her, since she is ensnared as well, for “B” soon will no doubt feel that this new point (“C”) still only illuminates a portion of her by its vector, and, worse, she must now alternate her attention between points “A” and “C,” never feeling whole nor wholly understood as truly “B” by either or both.
Her female falsity, done for expedience sake, will be her downfall.
Unless, I—the observer (point “X”), the only one who truly understands, the one who sees the entire situation from above—become involved.