This novel surprised me. Jim Nichols is a very good writer, well recognized for his short stories. But in Closer All the Time, Jim has woven together a group of his short stories and turned them into a compelling new novel. Most of the stories have been published before, but he wrote three new ones to link all of the others.
That works, allowing some characters to continue throughout the novel, but I actually read them as short stories, a few at a time. Each stands alone, and all are compelling, interesting, and very insightful. The setting is Baxter, Maine, a community near the coast, the time is shortly after World War Two, and the characters are very recognizable, from Early Blake, the clam digger, to Johnny Lundun, a veteran with serious problems.
Consider this, the first paragraph in the chapter titled “Early.”