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Blue Summer is winner of the 2021 Maine Literary Awards Fiction Prize!

 
"...the main character is tremendously appealing...we loved the way Jim Nichols wrote about music, and about creating music..." Judges, Maine Literary Awards
 
"Blue Summer offers no simple path to redemption, no easy walk to healing, but chronicles instead the flawed and broken gestures that we all make to honor the memory of the ones who continue to haunt us. With prose that can be both restrained and luminous, careful and lyrical, Nichols has composed here a story that is full of difficult truth and complex - and very often beautiful - Music." Jaed Coffin, author of Roughouse Friday
 
"In Cal Shaw, Nichols gives the reader a man humbled by experience who now looks back, accompanied by a melody — a melody that brought him back from the brink and is the same melody that will forever be his companion, bringing him memories of his youth, loss and love. It's an exceptional beginning and an exceptional book. Using a first-person perspective, Nichols lets Shaw tell us his story and provides us with not only a narrator but also a friend, a childhood buddy and a taxi-driving, recovering-alcoholic, cornet playing jazz musician to engage with in the process. Cal Shaw is all of that and much more, and Nichols expertly builds upon that throughout the story, adding layers to this man, some predictable and some very surprising." Rick Heller, The Quoddy Times
 
"Blue Summer is an effortless read, but that doesn't mean it is without deeper meaning, symbolism and moments of delicate thoughts." James M. Fisher, the Miramichi Reader
 
'The novel itself is crafted much like a blues piece – loose, tantalizing, taking readers in new directions, always turning back on itself. The author's process of getting the story down is much like Cal's working to capture a teasing and elusive musical mood. Nichols lets the story build slowly, as if it is carrying him where it wants to go. There are quarter notes and half notes scattered early that give the reader the thinnest glimpses of the tragedy of Cal's life. It isn't until the end, however, that the full tragedy is revealed. Blue Summer is Nichols's best yet." Frank O. Smith, Portland Sunday  Telegram
 
 

Other work

Hull Creek is the story of Troy Hull, fifth generation Maine lobsterman, and his struggle to keep the family home in a small coastal town that is rapidly turning into a haven for tourists and wealthy retirees.

Runner-up, 2012 Maine Book Award

Reviews:
"Maine's roots are here, and they are well worth our time and attention. 'Hull Creek' uses a suspenseful tale of change to show us that prosperity may be found in the paved driveways that lead to swanky summer homes, but nobility often lives in a trailer parked not far away on a dirt road with a sense of the past and a wide view of the water." -- Nancy Grape, Portland Sunday Telegram Book Review

"Nichols is a masterful storyteller, creating a gripping tale of suspense, vividly exposing the social and economic divisions between locals and outsiders -- and the good and bad decisions they both make -- with sharply defined characters, snappy dialogue and an exciting, satisfying conclusion that really isn't a happy ending at all." -- Bill Bushnell, The Kennebec Journal

Praise for Slow Monkeys and Other Stories

"Nichols makes his characters come alive…Nichols has an unerring ear for dialogue; his characters don't utter a false word…A brilliant… title story."- Chris Marquis, New York Times Book Review

"Slow Monkeys is crammed with distinctly American characters, and with his perfect apprehension and appreciation of human frailty, Jim Nichols comes across as nothing less than the broad authentic voice of America." - Charles Allen Wyman, The Absinthe Literary Review

"Jim Nichols has shown a rare ability to balance form and formlessness, artifice and rawness, to so lightly tether eros as to showcase, through language, that which is inexpressible, catching wildness within an admirable and precise form. I congratulate him." - Melissa Pritchard, in the essay The Near Impossible, written as judge of the Willamette Prize for Fiction

"Nichols writes with a shaved-down simplicity which is unadorned but certainly never empty. There's always something going on behind each sentence, a slow build of emotion so that, by story's end, you know there's a lot more to these lives than what you see on the page…These stories resonate with the haunting quality of a loon-call drifting across a lake… Slow Monkeys is the kind of book that makes me wish I had the omnipotency of a benevolent God, where with one sweep of my fingers I could convince several hundred thousand readers they must read this collection of gutsy, gritty fiction." - David Abrams, January Magazine