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The Crack Magazine

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Book of the Month: Nothing Special Nicole Flattery

Nicole Flattery first hovered onto my radar when her debut short story collection ‘Show Them A Good Time’ came out back in 2020. A caustically funny and irreverent series of tales, full of sharply drawn characters, it was a calling card that announced an exciting new talent. And, pleased to say, her debut novel is just as compelling. It’s mostly set in 1960s New York and concerns seventeen-year-old Mae who lives with her alcoholic mother, and her mother’s on-off boyfriend Mikey, in a down-at-heel apartment. Mae – a nicely spiky presence – doesn’t rub along well with the popular, pretty girls at school. But when she gets the chance of a job as a typist, she jumps at it. But this is no ordinary job. Her boss is Andy Warhol and she’ll be spending her days at his Factory studio. Working alongside her is Shelley and the pair are drawn into the very heart of the 1960s counter culture. You’d think a novel about young women working in such an environment would be a launch-pad for endless tales of debauchery and madness, but Flattery keeps the focus on Mae and Shelley, and succeeds in making these ‘ordinary’ women far more interesting than any of Warhol’s ‘superstars’. (Warhol himself is an appropriately ghostly presence.) The novel is full of mordant humour (“Shelley explained all of this slowly, with an absurd amount of eye contact”) and brimming with slap-sting sentences. Flattery is an author who appears to have mastered her art already. RM