(photo by Kevin Bennett, 2014)
"...Kent Haruf immersed the reader in small-town Colorado, Jane Smiley brought to life farming families in Iowa, Richard Russo the mill towns of upper New York State, and Charles Frazier the Southern Appalachians...Jim Nichols, with his previous two works, "Slow Monkeys and Other Stories" (2002) and "Hull Creek," a novel and runner-up for the 2012 Maine Book Award, made himself a prime candidate for "Maine Fiction Writer Most Likely to Succeed." No one paints a more vivid portrait of coastal Maine towns and their native sons and daughters - the clammers and bartenders, diner waitresses and business owners, all scrambling up the lower rungs of the economic ladder - than Nichols. (W)ith his latest work, Closer All the Time, this regional writer should receive recognition beyond the borders of his natal state, so others might appreciate his rich narratives, rolled out in his plain yet penetrating writing style..."
“Closer All the Time” offers a look at life in the fictitious small town of Baxter, Maine, through stories linked by common places and characters. The characters are powerful, and their struggles keep the reader flying along from chapter to chapter...Nichols is expert at shining a spotlight on private moments. A mother dances alone late at night in her attic. A boxer’s mind wanders just seconds before his fight. An alcoholic rationalizes each drink at the bar when he knows he’s meant to be home to greet his children at the school bus. In each instance, time seems to slow down and the character’s thoughts and movements betray weighty emotions...Nichols creates in children the same depth that he develops for his adult characters, for some of the story’s most moving moments.
- Georgeanne Davis, The Free Press
"Any discussion of candidates for the title ‘Fiction Laureate of Maine’ will quickly conjure names of the usual subjects: Stephen King, Elizabeth Strout, Carolyn Chute and Rick Russo spring to mind and all of them have carved out a unique niche in the Maine literary landscape. Bur for my money, when it comes to capturing the ethos of the people and culture of the Pine Tree State, perhaps no one does it better than Jim Nichols...Nichols’ latest novel, Closer All the Time (Islandport Press), is a lovingly rendered series of connected vignettes centering on the fictional coastal Maine community of Baxter...the stories follow a chronological progression, focusing upon the youth of the village, then the tender infatuations of adolescence and the heartbreak of the loves and challenges of grown-up life. The soul of this indelible collection is Baxter..."
- Bill Lundgren, Lundgren's Lounge
- Heidi Sistare, Portland Sunday Telegram
"Jim Nichols Makes me happy. These characters are parents, kids, aunts and uncles, lovers, neighbors, workers, deep and yet accessible selves. They keep secrets then share them, spy kisses, shoot high and fail, fall low and yet win. I felt like I was among friends, friends who worried me, challenged me, rejected me, loved me, paid back my attention, revealed their truest selves, moments so intimate I'd sneak off to read, moments so joyful I'd laugh through my tears. Closer All The Time is a novel built of stories, and a story built of sentences so beautiful I want to keep them like wild honey in a jar."
- Bill Roorbach (Life Among Giants, Remedy For Love)
"Nichols is one of my favorite writers, not just because he writes with such - dare I say - feminine insight about men's men...His men and boys become so real, I feel as if I know what it might have been like to grow up with brothers."
- Monica Wood (When We Were Kennedys, Ernie's Ark)
"These intertwined narratives creaste a memorable novel that vividly renders a town and its denizens. Jim Nichols never condescends to his characters. Though readers might question their choices in life, we never doubt their humanity."
- Ron Rash (Serena, Nothing Gold Can Stay)
"In a style reminiscent of Hemingway, Nichols's spare, plainspoken prose buzzes with emotional grit and tenderness, bringing dignity and vulnerability to alcoholics, poachers and bullies. Damn beautiful!"
- Susan Henderson (Up From The Blue)