Niketown: a novel (that I wrote)

tn_niketownI wanted to let you guys know I wrote a new book and I’m back in the lone wolf publishing game. It’s called Niketown: a novel. The “a novel” part is to make sure you know it’s a fictional novel, not a collection of reviews of different Nike stores or something. You can get the actual book version HERE for about thirteen bucks, or many electronical type versions HERE for about five bucks. It should be in the Kindle store soon, I’m waiting for it to process. But I believe you can also get a Kindle format from the Smashwords sight for now.

You can read a big sample chunk of it on there too if you’re concerned it’s gonna suck. Hopefully you’ll decide it doesn’t, but it’s a free country.

I’ve always wanted to write fiction, whether it be the Great American Pulp Novel or the unauthorized novelization of ON DEADLY GROUND. Now I finally did it.

Believe it or not this book has been in my head for more than a decade. I first started thinking about it in those days not long after 9-11 when it seemed like every morning the scrolling headlines on the bottom of CNN were a new nightmare, and each new pop culture trend or technological advancement was a way to make me feel older. Among other things it’s a story about that day when suddenly you look around and you realize you don’t recognize the world anymore and don’t know if you belong here. I wanted to write a book that combined a type of crime story I like with the angry, sometimes surreal satire of a Vern Tell’s It Like It Is column. It’s a weird mix, but I like it, and I hope you will too.

As time went on and the story continued to evolve I realized that it wasn’t just about the Bush years, and I regret not getting it all together a little sooner because some of the ideas I’d had in here since the beginning are now very timely, it could’ve seemed prophetic. And I could use some of that prophet money, you know.

You’ll be able to tell it’s a very personal book, but it’s not autobiographical, at least not in any of the cool ways. The shit that’s real is like, a guy I ran into on the bus or things like that.

I hope if you read Niketown you will like it and if you do please recommend it to your chums or relatives or whoever. As you can see I’m doing this indie/Dolemite style and word-of-mouth is really the only way I know how to sell it. Oh, if you review this sort of thing for websights or publications get ahold of me, I can figure out how to send a review ebook or something.

I hope to write my next novel much quicker than this, it will be more straightforward and please pay me a million dollars to turn it into a movie, thanks Hollywood. It will be a great book but people will come to resent me for being too popular and rich. But in my opinion this one will always by my first novel, so be cool and get in on the ground floor. And let me know what you think.

p.s. The cover is by Tony Fleecs, who if I remember right contacted me after the very first self published version of Seagalogy, because he thought the cover sucked and he could do better. Since then he has gone on to great success drawing My Little Ponies and shit, but was still willing to do this for me. Check out his stuff, he’s good.

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119 Responses to “Niketown: a novel (that I wrote)”

  1. Just bought it on the Kindle Store, Vern. Can’t wait to check it out after work.

  2. I’m buying the actual book! (i hate eBooks)

  3. AHHHHH FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Purchased the hard copy. Can’t wait to tear into this, Vern! Keep on keepin’ on.

  5. This might be the first ebook I will ever purchase. (Next week. I love your work, man, but I also gotta eat. For survival reasons, y’know.) And if I like it (and something tells me I will), I will also buy the real world old school copy afterwards.

  6. I really sound like that burger guy from Popeye…

  7. This pleases me.

    I shall read this as the Lord intended, with my eyes fixated on an iPhone Kindle app as I walk around town.

    Then I’ll determine which of my chums/relatives can handle a Niketown: a novel hard copy as b-day/x-mas/housewarming gifts. It’s all about word-of-Mouth.

    But who reviews the reviewer?

  8. Puchased a copy for may Kindle. Shall devour after I finish The Man With the Getaway Face.

  9. Congratu-fuckin’-lations, Vern! As a dude who’s been trying to finish a novel since before Griff was born, I know how difficult it is to stick with one all the way to The End. I usually crap out around the hundred page mark, but I’m about 250 pages into my current one, which, like NIKETOWN, is also a semi-autobiographical twist on the kind of crime story I like. I think this is the one that gets done. I got a good feeling.

    But enough about me. I already ordered my physical copy of NIKETOWN: A NOVEL ON PAPER LIKE THE WAY MARK TWAIN WOULD HAVE READ IT AND SHIT before I even finished reading this post. Can’t wait to discuss it with the boys and girls round here.

  10. The Original Paul

    March 24th, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Mouth – we do. You and I. On his own site, no less. If I could imagine Vern quaking in his boots, I’d imagine him doing it right now!

    In all seriousness though, I’m getting my copy as soon as payday comes along.

  11. Kindle store buy imminent.

    Well done Vern, I wrote a couple of near novel length manuscripts which were obviously rubbish and I’ve never been able to get writing again. But you sir, are a natural talent with a ton of non-fiction prose under your belt, I can’t wait to see your wit and imagination put to work in fiction.

  12. Congratulations, Vern! I’ve always wondered what your fiction would be like, and I’m enjoying the online preview a lot so far. Really looking forward to reading the rest when my hard copy gets here in the mail.

  13. The Black White Shadow

    March 24th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I literally cannot wait to read this.

    (I mean, I literally can and literally will, because of shipping and stuff)

    I’m excited, is my point.

  14. I am fucking IN for this one! Order for hard copy being placed now.

    Thanks for the early Christmas present Vern, you legend.

  15. Niketown cover art by Tony Fleecs, of My Little Pony fame.

    Now that’s a muthafuckin badass juxtaposition if I ever saw one.

  16. Majestyk – looking forward to your novel too. Would you use your Outlaw Vern handle Mr Majestyk, as the author? I’d buy it just for the way it rolls off the cover.

    Just think, you could get Vern and Mouth to talk it up on the sleeve, and Paul could bring us all back down to earth with a few comments about how chapter one was really slow, like slo-mo, but the rest blew his mind.

  17. It can’t be overstated what a missed opportunity it is that Vern isn’t packaging special edition MY LITTLE PONY comics along with Niketown. Major cross-demographic audience potential there. I guess sales #s just aren’t that important to him.

  18. Bought it on Kindle about two minutes ago.

    Vern – any chance that you’ve ever read Matthew Stokoe’s “High Life”? I try to push it on everybody I know that likes crime fiction. It’s without a doubt one of the most brutal and bleak books I have ever read.

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to Niketown! Congratulations on finishing the thing. Writing fiction can be a pain in the ass and there’s nothing like being done and getting it out there.

  19. Just bought it Vern. Reading it as soon as I finish GALVESTON. Heartfelt congratulations.

  20. Bought the ebook so I could start reading quicker, but I’ll probably pick up a hard copy, too, so I can loan it to my sister.

    Pretty good so far. Lots of good, funny moments. Some hints that the story could go in interesting directions.

  21. caruso_stalker217

    March 24th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I was wondering when you’d drop this on us, Vern. Just purchased the version with pages and whatnot.

  22. Darren: Thanks, man. I’ll try not to let you down. But I suspect I’ll leave my internet handle out of it. My government name is unlikely enough as it is.

  23. Bought the Kindle version, Vern. I look forward to reading it. m

  24. Woot! Woot! I love that you’re living the dream Vern. I’m going to catch this one.

  25. Justified theme song

    March 24th, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Just purchased it. Been looking forward to a Vern fiction novel since reading that unfinished Disney World lark way back when.

  26. How do I get a signed copy?

  27. Amazing news! I just bought it. I will put aside my reading of “Horny Ghost of Bin Laden” to read this instead.

    Congratulations Vern, well done.

  28. The Original Paul

    March 25th, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Darren – just as long as I don’t have to read it to a David Holmes jazzy soundtrack, I’m a-ok.

  29. Nice one, Vern! Just ordered an analogue copy, and will hopefully be reading it by the middle of next month when it arrives in the UK. Looking forward to it!

  30. Hi Vern

    Just ordered the hard copy version and soooooo looking forward to reading it sometime next year when it arrives at my UK address.

  31. Congrats, Vern! Can’t read it for a few weeks while I write my thesis, but I already acquired the digital edition and keeping it warm till then.

  32. holy shit, you wrote a novel, Vern? that’s fucking amazing, next time I get bitten by the book reading bug I’ll be sure to buy an actual printed copy, this is gonna be great

    and everybody’s who anybody feels out of place in the present day, what’s ironic is in those years after 9/11 (2002, 2003, 2004) I personally felt more at home, but in the 2010s I feel like I’ve almost completely lost the plot, it’s weird times we live in indeed

    also, Vern, I’ve given some serious, no joke thoughts at writing a novel myself, from your own personal experience, how hard would you say it really is?

    “Vern! As a dude who’s been trying to finish a novel since before Griff was born”

    wow, you must be pretty old, dude

  33. damn, gotta wait almost two weeks with the shipping cause I’m a cheapskate. its ok, I’m into the The Getaway right now, got the Hunter to read right after, so I should be ready when it comes. I had never really read crime fiction until very recently (mostly inspired from reading this site), but now I’ve burned through a bunch of stuff (mostly Jim Thompson or George Higgins) and I’m super into it, so this is just about the most perfect piece of news i’ll get all month, I’m sure of that.

  34. Griff: Well, I started my first one (a total Mike Hammer ripoff) when I was ten, so I think the math adds up.

  35. Awesome Vern. Can’t wait to read it.

  36. Thanks everybody, I deeply appreciate all the support. I feel compelled to warn that although I consider it in the crime genre it’s not a tightly structured formula piece like I usually like. In movie terms it’s probly a little closer to an Arthouse Badass type of approach. But I think it expresses what I’m trying to say and I can aspire to some day doing something more normal.

  37. Snagged the book-book (not real big on e-books). This is good timing because I’m almost finished Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted and need something new to read. If it’s episodic that kinda works out well because that’s how Haunted it written as well.

  38. Out of curiosity Vern, if we were to pick up a version, which would you prefer? I wanna buy it, but I’d like to pick up whichever version gets you more of the proceeds.

  39. Hey, big congratulations to you, Vern! You’re an inspiration to us all!

  40. Is the protagonist of the novel visited by the Ghosts Of Nike Past, Present, and Future? (presumably Steve Prefontaine, Bill Bowerman, and Phil Knight). That would be quite spiffy.

  41. Congrats, Vern! I’m already anxiously awaiting my hard copy.

  42. If I order a solid copy from that websight will they deliver it to the UK ?
    I really hate the idea of reading stuff off a computer screen.

  43. Nice one, just ordered a real copy, gonna read it while on holiday.

  44. Congratulations, Vern. Looking forward to reading it, although that collection of Nike store reviews sounds pretty compelling also.

  45. Awesome news, man! Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it (as soon as I get a new battery for my Kindle). Hopefully this will motivate me to get off my ass and get my book out there. It’s already finished, if I can get past the compulsion to re-write every goddamn sentence I read.

  46. Count me, in chum. And hey — congratulations on writing a novel! Looking forward to reading it. Proud of you buddy.

  47. bullet3: I believe I get paid the highest royalty if you buy the print book straight from Createspace, but not by a huge margin. So honestly I think you should buy whichever version works best for you. I’m partial to the actual book myself, but I know some people are into ebooks now, and it’s pretty cheap that way.

  48. Major props, Vern!

  49. My captain, this is fantastic! I’m going to go the paperback route so it can stand tall beside Seagalogy, as it well should.

  50. Awesome news, Vern! Of course I would have to consult with my financial advisor, The Wallet, first before a purchase. But I´ll put this on my list!

  51. I always feel guilty buying something for myself (typically British) but I’ve enjoyed your reviews for many years now so feel like I can justify purchasing this book. Plus when it arrives in 2 months I’ll have completely forgotten about it, it’ll be like a surprise gift from my time travelling self.

  52. Jareth Cutestory

    March 26th, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Congratulations, Vern. As others have said, just getting the damn thing finished is an accomplishment to be proud of. I look forward to the day you stir up controversy by telling the press that Tom Cruise isn’t the actor you had in mind to play Detective John Niketown in the movie version.

    I’m sure you’ve read this book already, but I thought I’d bring it to your attention just in case you haven’t. It might be useful if you ever write a historical drama: William C. Speidel wrote a book called: Sons of the Profits: There’s No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901. The basic thesis of the book is that Seattle was built on crazy. I figure this is the sort of book that will be useful to you now that you’re a prominent literary figure.

  53. I’m so, so happy about this. This probably doesn’t sound quite the way I want it to on the internets, but Vern, you really do give hope to those of us who want to make something cool but have to fight the feeling that it doesn’t matter. Your work is a real reason to keep fucking trying. Striving.
    Thank you.

  54. I will throw my congratulations on the growing pile and promise to pick up a copy in the near distant future.

  55. Well, I just found my summer reading. This looks fantastic, and congrats on writing an honest to goodness novel.

  56. Purchased! I tell you what, Vern, with both versions of Seagalogy and Yippee Ki-yay, I’m starting to develop a “Vern Shelf” in my office. Looks good.

  57. Any chance of this hitting The Nook?

  58. the website it said it would be to me in two weeks, but according to ups tracking, its already in Oklahoma City. I AM FUCKING PUMPED ABOUT THIS SHIT

  59. Mine arrived in Brooklyn this very day. SHIT JUST GOT REAL.

  60. Just finished the first five chapters and wanted to say I love it so far, Vern! Also I wanted to say that in my mind Carter Chase is played by Michael Jai White.

  61. Finished it today, really enjoyed it. I liked how you could see elements that you would expect to see- the Parker books, the sort of lone badass accidental detective stuff and so on but then it goes in a more unexpected and reflective direction.

    One particular thing I liked was that the violent confrontations mostly end in awkwardness and embarrassment for all concerned, a nice touch.

    Anyway I was impressed by the book and looking forward to more, good job in my opinion.

  62. EDJ – I’m new to this, but isn’t epub the format for Nook? That’s what the Nook websight is telling me. If so, the epub version is available at Smashwords:


  63. Kuryakin – thank you! You’re officially the first person to give me feedback after reading the whole thing. It’s a relief to hear that at least one person dug what I did there. (the rest of you, if you think it sucked that’s fine. No pressure.)

  64. “You’re officially the first person to give me feedback after reading the whole thing.”

    Does that include friends and family, Vern? I ask only because I’m interested in how other first-time novelists go about getting the job done, and I know I wouldn’t have the stones to just straight-up publish something that no one else has ever read. I’m not a big workshopper (took me getting an entirely useless and expensive MFA to figure that out) but I do like a little feedback after the story is well enough along, just to see what people find confusing and to hopefully get a little encouragement to keep up with the lonely business of writing. I’m a fairly cocky little fucker when it comes to wordery but I don’t think I have the confidence to write an entire novel in a vacuum and then release it into the world with only my own two eyes assuring me that it’s not a piece of shit. But you’ve always valued mysteriousness.

  65. Wow look at all these elderly badasses and their prejudice against digital books…

    I jest. I do love my Kindle though. I love being able to touch a word and have a definition pop up. Can’t wait for them to develop e-paper so that you can read your ebooks on actual paper and not on a screen, even if those tablet screens are significantly easier on the eyes than a laptop.

    Anyhoo, I nabbed e-niketown and will be getting down on it as soon as I finish the 14-book fantasy series I’m not going to admit that I’m reading (oops), but don’t worry I’m on 12 so it won’t be too long.

    Congratulations Vern. I’m sure I’m not the only aspiring writer in the community who can offer his sincere admiration for accomplishing such a project.

  66. Mr. M: I only had one person who read it, someone close to me but with editing experience. It helped me because I ended up changing alot of things that I wouldn’t have known were a problem and it made the book better. I should’ve shown it to more people, because somebody has already pointed out like 3 continuity errors in it. I had intended to (I’m not crazy) but I got antsy to finalize it when certain things I wrote about suddenly were in the news and I thought it was all gonna seem out of date if I didn’t hurry. Then it still took me a while longer to get the cover and the formatting and everything so it didn’t matter that much.

    So I recommend not doing what I did. Show it to at least a couple people you trust.

  67. Ok, it’s done. A copy of this book and a copy of ‘Seagalogy’ are now travelling to Spain. (Amazon magic)

  68. (long time reader, first time commenter, dig your stuff, etc)

    Congratulations for seeing it through! I always hoped there would be one coming.

    Another one of those gets shipped to Germany as I speak.

  69. Vern- bought the Kindle version over the weekend. Cannot wait to read it.

  70. Guys you should all buy the book; it’s really good. I’m a super slow reader but I devoured it in 3 days!

  71. I feel like I shouldn’t say shit until I’m finished, but I just spent the last 90 minutes hiding out in my car so I could burn through more of it. Honestly, I don’t want this book to finish, its fucking excellent. I’m only halfway through, but so far, it has been one of the most pleasurable reads I’ve had all year, and this is the year of Randy reading a shitload of books, a promise so far fulfilled. There’s some review of Tortoise’s second album online where the guy spends a great deal of time trying to convince you how good it is and how it won’t be a problem is you don’t get any of the musical references, its just good music no matter who you are. I think he makes some kind of swimming comparison (water’s fine or some shit). I feel exactly the same way about this book and will be pushing it on children and the elderly alike (not to mention the friends of mine who will need less persuasion). Super good, I may just sneak back to my car for a bit….

  72. +1 Baby

    Now I bloody wait and bloody wait
    I’m bloody lost and bloody found
    Stuck in fucking Niketown

  73. caruso_stalker217

    April 2nd, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Just got my copy in the mail. It is, as they say, on.

  74. Vern- I’ve been reading your site daily for years but never felt the need to comment before. Just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed your book. You clearly put a lot of yourself into it, and the honesty showed. Completing a novel is a huge task, so congrats on doing such a solid job of it. Keep up the great work you do, brother.

  75. First e-book I ever bought, Vern – congratulations from another one of your lurkers. The tone in “Yeah, I’ve seen those in places,” about the urinal ads, is spot-on – looking forward to posting again when I’ve read it all.

  76. I finished it the other day, and it’s a great, fast-paced read. It never quite does what you think it’s gonna do or go where you think it’s gonna go. The closest comparison I can think of is not actually to a crime writer at all, but to Phillip K. Dick. You have a similar unadorned prose style that nonchalantly reveals that this world we’re walking around in is not quite our world, but everybody’s used to it (even if nobody likes it very much) and we all have to make a living and get on with our lives anyway so don’t make a big deal out of it. It ends up feeling more like a social science-fiction story by the end than a crime tale, but with more sympathy for the humanity of its characters that gives it its pulse. It’s a good book, Vern. I liked it a lot.


    To be honest, though, Vern, there was one thing I thought was a bit of a misstep on your part, and that was the thing with Carter NO SERIOUSLY SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET STOP HERE brain LAST CHANCE TO REMAIN UNSPOILED tumor. I hate to say it but it felt a little cliched to me. What were you going for with that development? Were you trying to take some of the edge off of making a hero out of a (kind of) suicide bomber or what? I kind of thought it deflated his noble sacrifice somewhat to learn that he was going to die anyway, but I’d be interested in hearing what your intentions were.


    Anyway, solid book, Vern. It really moves and I felt like I understood this character and where he was coming from. When can we expect RETURN TO NIKETOWN?

  77. Majestyk (SPOILERS FOR MY OWN BOOK HERE): I actually came really close to taking that out, but yes, my thinking was that it would help in my goal of a semi-happy ending where the hero dies. I also thought the occasional references to his headaches and other health issues would add to a mounting stress as we move toward what we think is a suicide bombing, and allowed for a few lines about his hopeless future as further misdirection. I also liked the idea that Dante would be suspicious about why he was let out early. But you may be right. Thanks for the honesty, and I’m glad you liked it otherwise.

    I have thought it would be cool if there was a barely related book about Mark after he gets out, but I have no idea what the story would be so that’s not gonna happen. I guess RETURN TO NIKETOWN will be about Jimmy when he grows up and then it’s just a rehash with more exploding and some elaborate skateboard stunt sequences.

  78. Shit, I didn’t even put it together with his headaches. That’s some foreshadowing I should have picked up on. It might have made that previously mentioned development feel more like something I should have seen coming. But I know how hard it is to know whether or not you’ve adequately established something when you’re trying to be subtle about it. I guess it’s smarter to err on the side of not bludgeoning the reader over the fucking head with it, but it sucks when people don’t pick up on something important.

    Again, congratulations, Vern. Not only did you finish it, but it’s a good story with strong characters, a great pace, and important themes that are skillfully linked to the narrative. I only hope mine is half as good. The funny thing is, while it’s a very different kind of book, both in tone and content, there are some superficial similarities. Both are about an outsider character coming back to his hometown after a long time to go to a funeral of one family member and find another one who’s missing. Both involve using places of business the family member frequented as a means of tracking him down. Both have a bar fight. Mine lacks any and all commentary about the commercialization of our society, but it does have a one-armed old biker king who talks like Sir Richard Attenborough. So they’re totally different, I guess.

  79. Done, the same evening! Typical Vern: Start out with what looks like a potboiler, then before you know it, it’s a thoughtful critique of art, commercialism and all of American civilization. Really enjoyable – I was probably turning pages faster all the way to the end.

    One thing it reminded me of, randomly, was this Haitian novel where a poor kid from the slums breaks into a wealthy home one night, and in one of the bedrooms he sees a night light for the first time in his life. It hits him that the rich are completely unimaginable to him – they pay for lights even when they’re asleep and can’t see them. I remember thinking I’d never be able to write a believable character who was that poor, because I wouldn’t even be able to guess the things that would surprise him about my world, or surprise me about his. A whole huge first chunk of Niketown felt like similar little revelations – this outsider visiting Seattle, reacting to nothing like I’d expect, making me see it through different eyes. Very cool.


    Mr. Majestyk, it wasn’t just the headaches, there was also Carter’s weakening hand, and that odd moment when Margaret noticed one of his eyes was more dilated than the other. At the time I chalked it up to the fights he’d been in, maybe he was getting addled by all the blows to the head? But it felt like fair play when we found out the real reason – even though I was more looking forward to seeing Carter’s weird hard relationships with Margaret or Abbey play out (a _little_ action for our hero, Vern? no? celibate monk?) than a true-believer suicide.

  80. That’s a good point, Totorito. There were enough clues that I should have put two and two together. Sorry, Vern. I’ll read better next time.

  81. So as promised, I now bought the electronic version of your novel and can’t wait to read it. (Interesting enough, German Amazon has it also in stock as non-science-fiction-full-old-school-paper version of it, so when I buy it the 2nd time around, I won’t have to wait a month till it shows up on here.)

  82. I’m reading the “real-book version” of your novel. Sir, you are a fine writer. I’ll spread the word.

    Greetings from Spain.

  83. Finally got off my tookus and ordered an old-school paper-based edition, Vern. Can’t wait to enjoy me some post-fiction!

  84. I finished it. It’s awesome. After I put it down I thought, “I’m not going to think of Vern as a reviewer who wrote a novel now. I’m going to think of him as a novelist who writes movie reviews.”


    Really enjoyed it. Liked the way everything came together, liked what it had to say about the world we live in, and – after some reflection – I even (!!!) liked the brain tumor. I appreciate what it retroactively did for the character — you realize that he could have spent the entire book feeling sorry for himself, but instead he focused on finding his brother, because he is trying to be a positive individual. You could say that Carter Chase was striving for excellence, which is a pretty good thing for a badass hero to do. Basketball reveal was great, I thought it was a daring (and successful) choice to keep the narrative going for as long as it did after the protagonist’s death, and the characters were all fascinating. Thanks for writing a good book.

  85. Vern- just finished it today, and I must say that I really enjoyed it. For some reason I expected something straight out of the Richard Stark book, with Carter just busting heads and kicking a ton of ass.
    In the end, it was almost more in the Westlake vein, where there is some good ass-kicking mixed in with some really sly and funny character work as well.

    Great job sir. Who do you want to play Carter in the movie version?

  86. Good question, TJ. I thought about it while writing it and honestly couldn’t think of an actor I would want. But I also have a hard time picturing anybody trying to make a movie out of it. I assume they’d have to lose the name brands which would be a pretty big compromise from the beginning. Of course, they should do it anyway and it should be a huge smash hit with spin-off cartoon and everything.

  87. Hey Vern, just finished the book and really fuckin enjoyed it. (There’ll be SPOILERS here for anybody who hasn’t read it…) Great story, great characters, and it always kept me guessing about where it would head next. It reminded me a bit of some of your surreal fantasy sequel scenarios, except revealing itself slowly rather than condensed into one paragraph. I loved way you incorporated pet themes into the action, like your observations about mobile phones and the commodification of culture (and how even a protest against commodification is itself commodified as “rectangling”). It’s a challenge to do this without sidelining the plot, but you pulled it off in style and enriched the world of the book at the same time. I also loved the subtle comedy of Chase’s conversion to foodism (his apple sage marinade at the hot dog stand is a great illustration of “striving for excellence”).

    The only thing that struck me as a bit of a bum note is the same thing raised by Mr Majestyk, above. I connected it with the headaches, but the main reason is stuck out for me is that Chase seemed to be placing so much emphasis on straightening up and getting a job etc. (prior to the awesome basketball reveal, at least). In hindsight I was probably reading his decision to do the ad campaign as more of a long-term career move than he had in mind, given the circumstances, but for me the ending was already so perfect – the way it all came together on that basketball court, his last moments chuckling at the irony of his footwear – that the extra twist felt a bit superfluous. In my opinion.

    But having said that, it didn’t throw me off for too long, and I quickly learned to love it in exactly the same way you love everything about your favourite movies, even if you might have done it differently here and there. It was just so much fun to hang out with Chase on his crazy journey, and I’ll be recommending NIKETOWN to my buddies for sure.

    Nice one, Vern.

  88. Vern- I thought the same thing about having to change the title Niketown if it were to ever be a movie.

    That said, seeing the main character’s name, and the fact that he has a bunch of people after him, I’m thinking maybe GET CARTER as a movie title. Seems catchy and badass sounding at the same time.

    And I know people bag on him for being a shitty actor and tanking in a few big budget movies, but I could actually see Taylor Kitsch as a decent Carter. Having not seen most of his movies, I’m thinking more about his character of Riggins on Friday Night Lights, the sort of down on his luck longhaired guy who seems like he has a good heart but always finds himself in some shitty situations. At least I was sort of picturing Carter looking like Kitsch by the end of the book in my mind.

  89. I don’t think they’re gonna let Kitsch play another character named Carter for a while.

    Carter needs to be someone big and tough but sweet and smarter than he looks.

    Honestly, I’m going with Randy Couture.

  90. caruso_stalker217

    April 11th, 2014 at 4:12 am

    “I’m going to do some detective shit now.”

    Finished this while I was on the shitter. I really enjoyed this, Vern. I’d gives some reasons for why, but it’s 4 am. And others have already said some nice positive things about it and I share the sentiment. It had the humor and the heart and the occasional badass moment. And lots of scenes of people eating in restaurants, which is what I’m all about.

    Way to go, bud. Don’t spend another decade cranking out the next one.

  91. Just purchased a physical copy as a personal birthday present to myself. I’m looking forward to start reading it in five to seven days.

  92. I finished the novel over the weekend. Pretty good, Vern. Be proud of yourself.

  93. Hey Vern,

    Finally got a chance to read Niketown on Kindle (Sorry) here on holidays, it was a real treat with just the right amount of colour and a hero that had his limitations but was adequately badass to get behind 100% of the time.

    The only thing that didn´t really work for me was [spoilers] the brief segment told from Margaret´s point of view which still read like it was in Carter´s voice.. [Endspoilers]

    Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed the wit and creativity of the story, and thoroughly annoyed my wife by trying to explain some of the major moments of hilarity out of context.

  94. Just bought this book vern. I’m sure this scathing expose into the child labour industry will be as action packed and insightful as I expect from you. Will update later with thoughts.

  95. Thoughts: Decent. Not a masterpiece, but it definitely had a lot of shoes in it. For some reason this was just the kind of book I felt like reading today. Nice work Vern.

  96. Read it. Liked it. Liked the way you play your cards, liked the pace, liked how Carter gets more cocky when he’s on the ground, liked the spitting of blood on the white Nikes, liked how you didn’t dwell too much on the deaths that happend before the novel starts, while still making them count.

    Gonna buy your next book no matter what.

  97. Really enjoyed it Vern. Very good read. Congratulations again I man.

  98. Letter I was not supposed to be in that comments.

  99. I’m such a slow reader. According to that kindle app that I use, I’ve only finished 30% of your book (which actually kinda sounds like something OUT of your book!). But it’s a seriously great read so far and I guess it will either stay that way or become better. I also became the first book ever that I read in the bath tub. (Feel free to laugh if I ever drop my tablet in the water.)

  100. Also, since I can’t resist. I would like to point out the reference to the movie “Chinatown”. This is definitely a plus.

  101. so guys, I haven’t read Niketown yet, but I’d like to talk about what Vern describes as “that day when suddenly you look around and you realize you don’t recognize the world anymore and don’t know if you belong here”

    I feel that way a lot about the 2010s, there’s just much about the culture of this decade that I just don’t understand, there was a lot in the 2000’s that I didn’t care for, but even if it wasn’t my cup of tea more often than I could at least understand the appeal, let’s look at the horror genre as the perfect example, remember that time in the 2000’s, during the days of SAW and HOSTEL when “torture porn” was the big thing in horror? while I did like the two HOSTELS, I never saw any of the SAWS because to be honest that sort of thing was not really my cup of tea, but I understood it because at that point in time it made sense that horror would have to really push the envelope in order to shock and scare people

    but flash forward to today and you have all those found footage flicks like the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, which I saw the first of and recently watched most of the 4th one on TV and holy shit, they were fucking BORING, I mean seriously dull, bloodless and scareless, is this really what passes for horror these days? what’s the appeal? what on Earth do people find scary about them? the only thing that made BLAIR WITCH scary back in the day was the pretense that it was real, which none of these other movies have, so why do people find them scary? it’s just so weird to me how in the span of several years we went from torture porn to bloodless found footage ghost movies

    and let’s look at the video game Minecraft, if you had told me in the 2000’s that one of the most popular video games of the 2010s would be basically a virtual Lego simulator with sub N64 quality graphics I would have seriously thought you were joking, from what I understand it’s popular with kids, but is that really the kind of game kids like these days? they don’t want interesting stories or characters, fun, exciting gameplay and gorgeous graphics? instead they want tedious busywork in order to build ugly structures? what in the ever loving fuck?

    not everything about this decade is bad sure, but there’s just so much that makes me feel like I’m living in a foreign country, there’s was a lot of shitty stuff in the 2000’s too, but dammit, at least I understood what the fuck was going on

  102. Hey Vern, just finished Niketown, really enjoyed it. Just a thought, [spoilers] was expecting some follow up on the basketball vs mother case as part of the post-Carter section of the novel to round out his “plan” [end spoilers]. Didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book.

    Oh shit, one more thought [spoilers] I was 100% sure Mark was going to turn out to be a terrorist anyway, but was well aware that would legitamise the government kidnapping so was curious how you were going to play it [end spoilers]. I guess that would have been a crappy twist, I blame Philip K Dick, Imposter is one of my favourite shorts, so I always assume miss-direction first.

    Sorry, one more, thought we were going into Die Hard territory when the shoes came off in the woods, running away was awesome.

    Anyway, I picked up the Kindle version and appear to have added Heart of Darkness to the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”, sad to say it’s the free version but I just wanted a classic to smash through while on my travels and felt 36 english pence for the legit version was a bit hefty.

  103. Vern, loved the book, couldn’t put it down! My favorite part was the “Rectanglers”. Also, I want to make the Mark Chase dog and send you a pic. What would be the best way to do that?

  104. Michael – if you’re serious, email it to me at outlawvern at hotmail dot com, or if you’re on Twitter send it to @outlawvern and I will re-twitter it.

  105. Vern, just finished your book, and I really enjoyed it. Not at all what I was expecting. I was impressed with the social satire, it perfectly rode the line between silly and depressingly believable. You just fucking know there are people out there who would read the part about the gravestone sponsorship and think of it as a great untapped market.

    Like Majestyk, I was a little disappointed by (SPOILER) the brain tumor bit, but the more I thought about, the more I liked it. Without it, I think I would have been more disappointed that the only way Carter could think of to free his brother was by throwing his own life away. That would have been sort of a cop out for Carter, especially since he really seemed like he did have a lot to live for. He would be making a statement, but avoiding the fight. Knowing that he was going to die regardless, that he didn’t have the time for a fight, validated his decision to go out with (or without) a bang. He choose to make his death as meaningful and far reaching as possible.

    So nice work, brother. Keep it going.

  106. That’s a good way of looking at it, Zeke. You’re right, if the SPOILER hadn’t happened, Carter would have kept fighting to find his brother until he found a way. Who knows, maybe the notoriety from the rectangling movement would have given him a platform from which to reach the masses. He could have used the resources of the marketing company for good instead of evil. But he didn’t have time for that, so he did the only thing he could. I was only reading that development as a well-worn trope, but removed from that context and just viewed in the context of the story itself, it works better.

  107. I finally finished it (told ya I am a slow reader) and I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty much the kind of story that I enjoy in movie form. A story, that is so full of normal real life moments, that are too bizarre to NOT be more or less losely based on real life events and are strung together by a plot, that definitely serves as the selling point, but alll in all plays the 2nd fiddle to the portrayal of the short time in the horrible normal life of the protagonist.

    The one criticism I have, is that Carter’s final plan seemed to appear out of the blue. I don’t wanna say it felt tacked on, because it all came together so beautiful that AFTER it happened, it worked much better for me, but for a few chapters it really was a “Hey, what’s going on here” thing.

    BTW, I don’t know who should play Carter, but for any reason I think that Terry Zwigoff or Jim Jarmush would be cool directors for a possible movie.

  108. Finished this last night and I have to say congratulations, Vern. Very nice job! You were really able to create this world that felt familiar and at the same time different. So many times people go so far in trying to make their brave new world that they make it completely foreign, which is okay, but it’s nice when the world created is just different enough that you still feel at home. The characters all felt like real people. They had enough distinction between them to really give them their own character – hippy neighbor, tool brother, etc, but they had depth and were dynamic, not caricatures, which makes them relatable and interesting.

    Like someone has already mentioned, I also enjoyed that the violence often ended in awkwardness. I liked the light touch of humor. You handled it deftly, like with the incorporation of the new, commercial world you created. It was never cartoonish, but at times it was absurd, which I loved, because life is often absurd. Life is never all fun nor all darkness, so I enjoy when both are used.


    I caught on to the tumor. When the headaches first came up I wondered what was going on. Then at the end when his arm was going numb and he seemed to be plotting something drastic, I was pretty sure. I appreciated that you tried to lighten his death. I’m with Zeke that it makes more sense that he would have tried to figure out another way if he hadn’t known he was dying. I think that you handled it well in that it wasn’t obvious he was dying. It wasn’t until well into the book that I even questioned why he was out early. Then I wondered if it was because his mom died, so they let him out to attend her funeral. It was good that you never said how early his release was.

    I also enjoyed how well you managed Carter’s changing. At first, integrating him back into society, where he goes from thinking food is just there to shit out to actually enjoying it. I also thought it was well handled how he would come to the idea of selling out. Knowing now that he was dying and wanted to do something that his parents would be proud of, makes complete sense. Yet, it also worked thinking that he was trying to get his life on track to being something his parents would be proud of. I like it better that it was more of a final gesture for them, than a lifestyle, because living that life would have never made him happy.

    Then when he realizes what happened to his mother – brilliant. I often dislike when a story incorporates coincidence, but life has coincidences and this felt like a true to life one.

    The only point that I felt was a little off was the scene in the woods. I can see how you’d want to have a scene to show he’s doing more to investigate his brother’s disappearance and also, with his dying, it makes sense that he would feel a desire to connect to nature in a way. If that was your intent, I think it would’ve played better to just have him out in the woods, having a moment. It was the woman in the cabin, with the gun, that throws it off for me. I kept expecting that to be significant in his brother’s disappearance. Maybe that was your intent. Maybe it was a red herring. Or maybe it was your way of showing that he couldn’t even catch a break when he was trying to have a moment to commune with nature and ends up getting run off by a woman with a gun. I don’t know. It just didn’t flow for me there.

    But I don’t want to end on a downer note, so I will once again say how much I enjoyed it. If you ever wanted to write a straight up crime novel, you definitely have the chops.

  109. Ben (the other one)

    May 30th, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I finished NIKETOWN last night and I just bought my brother the e-book as a gift a couple of days ago.

    Loved it.

    First of all, it had Vern’s signature humor. I laughed out loud more than I ever have from a book. I have to give a special shout out to that scene where the guy fails to clean up after his dog, because I literally cried laughing while reading what ensued.

    But I had expected the book to be funny because Vern is really funny. What took me a little off guard was how much more it had going on than the humor. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised because I think anyone who reads the site regularly knows how intelligent and observant the guy is. But still, I was pleasantly enthralled by the headier satire, the poignant family stuff, and the more tragic elements.

    I am emphatically recommending it to people I know.

  110. Finished Niketown on my Kindle a couple of nights ago. Pretty good read and a nice debut novel. I always appreciate a story that’s difficult to second-guess. Wise choice to stray from formula and play it “art house” as you described. Looking forward to more. Also, I went ahead and threw a review on Amazon.

    TO VERNS READERS: if you read the book then review it on Amazon, even if it’s just a sentence or two. It really helps open up the books exposure on the site and will only help out the author.

  111. Just finished NIKETOWN. Great book! As others said, it was not what I expected. Not as badass / action-packed, etc. as one might expect from Vern. But I liked the near-future anticipation, the various characters (especially Carter), the writing style… Really glad I bought it.

  112. Just finished this last night. It’s a nice, quick read. If it was ever turned into a movie it feels like it would have been something directed by Robert Altman. SPOILERS AHEAD

    I liked the swerve from where I thought this was headed (hard-boiled crime novel) to where it actually ended up (something of a light, Vonnegut kind of sci-fi). During the basketball scene I couldn’t get the opening of MAGNOLIA out of my head. Like Majestyk I didn’t pick up on the tumor. To me the best parts were early on, as Chase fumbled with re-integrating himself back into the modern world. I am really curious what the big three continuity errors were; I only spotted one. END SPOILERS

    It’s interesting to me how much John Brown is floating around in people’s thoughts under the surface right now. He should be amazingly relevant right now to anyone who is paying attention as an example of someone who was living in a soul-crushingly unjust time and who actually had the courage of his convictions to do something about it. And from a modern perspective you can see how the propaganda response started a few years after his killing, and for decades his reputation in popular culture was that of a lunatic. They slandered him for being heroic and right, and it stuck.

    Getting back to that New Year’s thread, a personal low point for me happened around Labor Day. I think it was Ferguson that was in the news, and I had been reading one of Te-Nahisi Coates’s articles on the systematic plunder of black wealth, labor, and dignity stretching back hundreds of years and not quite stopping as soon as you’d like it to. I was on a train headed toward New Jersey and I was stinking drunk. My phone, playing songs randomly, went to John Brown’s Body and upon hitting the chorus I started blubbering like a big idiot.

    What are any of us actually doing to solve anything?

    Wait, I’m going far afield here. Bottom line, I enjoyed Niketown and wish you success on the next one.

  113. Hey Vern look

    The English language fiction section of the public library here finally has NIKETOWN!
    I don’t know if it’s no big deal because it’s already available in thousands of libraries all over the world, or if it’s actually bad news because it means you only get royalties for one copy while tons of people will get to read the book for free, or if you don’t care at all about being considered cool enough to hang out with Tolkien, Updike and Verne, but I thought I’d share (and I hope I didn’t fuck up the link stuff for the picture, obviously, but there’s no way to check before submitting) (yes, I’m old, I don’t know how those internet link things work).

  114. Shit the picture is fucking huge. Sorry about that.

  115. No, I love it! Since it’s a print-on-demand book I don’t know how many libraries would have it. I haven’t really investigated. Thanks for posting that.

  116. Fuck off, Updike, there’s a new boss in town.

    This is seriously awesome.

  117. Vern get to share shelf with Voltaire. Awesome!

  118. Now I’m thinking I should have framed it to show that he’s also just inches away from Richard Stark.

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