Nicole Flattery at Harvard Book Store


Nothing Special

in conversation with MAGGIE DOHERTY


July 14, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author NICOLE FLATTERY for a discussion of her latest novel Nothing Special. She will be joined in conversation by MAGGIE DOHERTY, author of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.

Update on Event Masking Policies

Masks are not required for this event. As of June 1, 2023, masks are encouraged but not required for most Harvard Book Store events, unless otherwise specified. Please review individual listings.

About Nothing Special

New York City, 1966. Seventeen-year-old Mae lives in a rundown apartment with her alcoholic mother and her mother's sometimes-boyfriend, Mikey. She is turned off by the petty girls at her high school, and the sleazy men she typically meets. When she drops out, she is presented with a job offer that will remake her world entirely: she is hired as a typist for the artist Andy Warhol.

Warhol is composing an unconventional novel by recording the conversations and experiences of his many famous and alluring friends. Tasked with transcribing these tapes alongside several other girls, Mae quickly befriends Shelley and the two of them embark on a surreal adventure at the fringes of the countercultural movement. Going to parties together, exploring their womanhood and sexuality, this should be the most enlivening experience of Mae's life. But as she grows increasingly obsessed with the tapes and numb to her own reality, Mae must grapple with the thin line between art and voyeurism and determine how she can remain her own person as the tide of the sixties sweeps over her.

For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh and Mary Gaitskill, this blistering, mordantly funny debut novel brilliantly interrogates the nature of friendship and independence and the construction of art and identity. Nothing Special is a whip-smart coming-of-age story that brings to life the experience of young girls in this iconic and turbulent American moment.

Praise for Nothing Special

“Told with dry wit and sharp observation, Nothing Special speaks in a profound and original way to our age of vacuous consumerism, our empty quests for self-discovery, and our parasitism on celebrity and trend. Flattery ingeniously uses 1960s New York—where the high priest of pop Andy Warhol exploits and mimics for art—to draw striking parallels between artistic creation through reproduction, and the role of fantasy, envy and voyeurism in self-creation. A bold and funny coming-of-age novel about the emptiness of the cult of self, the fetishisation of fame, and the aimless drift of late-stage capitalism.”Imogen Crimp, author of A Very Nice Girl

“Flattery channels an unlikely muse in Mae; a young typist tasked with transcribing the lives of avant garde artists, aspiring starlets and hanger-ons in Warhol's orbit. With rich interiority, she captures the exhilarating, mundane, and often brutal wilderness of girlhood, set in one of the most mythologized cultural eras of our time. Flattery manages to lay bare our enduring parasocial fantasies and celebrity obsession, and the fraught nature of power, art, identity, sex and friendship, all with lucid prose and deadpan humor. A truly addictive read.” ―Nada Alic, author of Bad Thoughts

“Darkly funny, tender, smart as anything and riddled with the most wonderful sentences, Nothing Special is a superb debut novel from a superb writer. Nicole Flattery is in a league of her own.” ―John Patrick McHugh, author of Pure Gold

Maggie Doherty
Maggie Doherty

Maggie Doherty

Maggie Doherty is the author of The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. Her writing appears regularly in The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and the New Republic, among other publications. She teaches creative writing and journalism at Harvard and Tufts.

Photo credit: Max Larkin

Nicole Flattery
Nicole Flattery

Nicole Flattery

Nicole Flattery is the author of the story collection Show Them A Good Time and the novel Nothing Special. She is the winner of a Post Irish Book Award, the Kate O'Brien Prize, the London Magazine Prize for Debut Fiction and The White Review Short Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, the Guardian, The White Review and the London Review of Books. She lives in Galway, Ireland.

Photo credit: Conor Horgan

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