“Nike’ is a literary and documentary novel of the extravagant weapon culture during the Cold War. Murder, sentiment and wit leaven its otherwise serious intent.
‘Nike’ is a rollicking saga involving the denizens in the Gold-Rush town of Fernville, California. A metaphor plays in the background: That passion for the rare gold and uranium, surprisingly equal in weight, hubris, and maybe in consequence, stimulates the worst in human nature. The serious reader who patiently works her way through the multiple narratives in this literary novel will be rewarded, but might also experience something of dread and anger over the real nuclear confrontations depicted herein. Defense Company, Maxtar, moves to the Fernville region in 1955, bringing an unsettling milieu of engineers, scientists and executives. Hervey, an acerbic associate professor whose scholarship is the nuclear genie, worries over his nubile daughter’s chaotic entanglements with Maxtar engineers. Alice, a spirited and alcoholic executive’s wife, suffers boredom, prompting her to engage in extra-marital romance with Hervey. She desires authorship and discovers long-buried Fernville “skeletons.” Thirty years later we rejoin the characters, kept on stage by a tenuous correspondence between Hervey and Alice (now published author). Hard realities now contrast to the earlier slight whimsy present in 1955. Conflicts are resolved: Hervey’s final joust with the nuclear genie; those hot-blooded romances of 1955; a 1921 murder – or are they?!