Ryan Roberts - Nimrod [book] (Cover Artwork)

Ryan Roberts

Nimrod 📕 (2022)

Earth Island Books

Review written by Robert L. Muscatello

Nimrod was a bit of a change from what I’ve been reading lately, but once I saw that it takes place where I grew up, I was in.

Nimrod is a very impressive debut novel from Ryan Roberts. As a kid who grew up in the 80s, came of age in the 90s, and brimming from the punk rock persuasion, this story really brought me back and made me a bit emo at times. 

Nimrod is a coming-of-age story with great pacing, humor, and how music shaped every NJ summer filled with love, loss, and seeking one’s self. Roberts captures what is was like to grow up during that time period extremely well. 

Our main character, Rod, is obsessed with Sting from The Police and tormented by East Bay punk rockers, Green Day, which both provide a certain catharsis for him throughout his daily life. The constant incorporation of these two elements of Rod’s thought process prompted me to revisit the first Police album from 1978, which is a testament to how immersed you can get in this book. I revisited multiple punk albums from my youth during my daily routine in anticipation for the next time I could sit down and continue reading this story. The practical execution and format of the novel was also impressive and may go overlooked. Roberts incorporates many references from Green Day, The Police, and Sting and has named every chapter after a song by one of them. Also, the novel was released in 2022, which is the 25th anniversary of Green Day’s Nimrod.

Contrary to the on-the-surface, light-heartedness of this story, there are many archetypal themes and personalities that our main character, Rod, encounters and shapes the boy’s arc. I identified in much the same way as I recalled those NJ summer breaks in the early 90s and how they influenced my transition into adulthood. No matter who you are, the connection to Rod will be there in some way. Much like the characters in your favorite show or sitcom, Roberts develops his cast in such a way that you’ll know what they’re going to say and how they’ll handle whatever comes their way throughout this tale. A great accomplishment.

So, pour yourself a cup of Oakland coffee, put your favorite Punk album on the turntable, and sit back with Nimrod, a sleeper novel by new author, Ryan Roberts. I am very much looking forward to what’s next from this new “90s guy” on the indie scene.