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review 2014-12-02 05:45
The Anthologist
The Anthologist - Nicholson Baker

I disagreed with Baker's base Poetics (rhyme is not and has never been what draws me to poetry & I actually really enjoy iambic pentameter), and I often found his prose as purple as the plum on the cover--but even so I adored this book, as I adore practically everything else Baker has written. He never writes about much--tackling the subject & love of poetry is actually quote ambitious for a novelist who usually works on the scale of the beauty of staplers and the difficulty of heating up a bottle of milk for an infant--but he does it with such verve and unabashed excitement that I am always caught up in the emotion of it all. This book is actually a bit of an anomaly if I remember correctly: it's got a sort-of plot, with actual character arc and everything. Even if it hadn't I'd probably still love it. Baker has an incredible sense of joy that is so often dampened, or lost completely, in the stuffy pretentious of modern fiction. It's glorious to see this enthusiasm keyed on poetry, a subject that I actually care about. I'd reread this in a heartbeat--it really galvanized my (at the time) flagging faith in Literature.

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text 2014-11-19 10:01
Top 10 books about reading
U and I - Nicholson Baker
To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface - Olivia Laing
Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece - Michael Gorra
The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them - Elif Batuman
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer - Sarah Bakewell
How Proust Can Change Your Life - Alain de Botton
Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence - Geoff Dyer
Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages - Phyllis Rose
The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia - Laura Miller
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter - William Deresiewicz

The Guardian Books has picked the top 10 books about reading, would you add anything to this list? 


Here's the interesting quote from the author of the Guardian article, Rebecca Mead:

My favorite books about books, or about reading, are those in which the writer has not felt it necessary to hide his or her own personal involvement in the subject – or to limit its disclosure to a preface or afterword – but instead has taken his or her own investment as a starting point. Reading isn’t a terribly dramatic activity to write about, admittedly. But since all real writers are also readers, it is, for some of us at least, a compelling, indeed unavoidable, subject. I bet if skydivers could skydive about skydiving, they would. (via)

Source: www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/12/top-10-books-about-readers-nicholson-baker
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review 2014-01-02 19:33
A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker
A Box of Matches - Nicholson Baker

bookshelves: published-2003, paper-read, lifestyles-deathstyles, hardback, winter-20132014, bellybutton-mining, amusing, giftee, lit-richer

Read in January, 2014

Dedication: For Margaret

Opening: Good morning, it's January and it's 4:17am, and I'm going to sit here in the dark

Emmett (I am sure that means 'ant' in Cornish!) is an editor of medical textbooks and is married to a Claire, who likes to read in bed at night.

pub 2003
paper> hardback
belly-button> OCD> existenstial angst
duck worry

My first quibble came early and it had to do with the blurb not the book itself: 'A man gets up earlier and earlier each day': he doesn't, and that ant query seems to be spot-on: see page 163.

This is a perfect New Year's eve book - each chapter read outloud by a different person whilst the others watch the fire and sip brandied coffee, giggle, and contemplate emulating the New Year's Dawn Watch with hot flasks and doubled-up mittens. This whimsical story has made for a beautiful collective consciousness for some close friends at the last embers of a dying year.

slow tv - perfect accompaniment

The music is James Taylor


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review 2013-10-13 09:06
The Mezzanine - Nicholson Baker This minute observation has autistic elements in it that made it for me very hard to read. Intellectually a great piece, not necessarily enjoyable for me.
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review 2013-10-06 15:14
Traveling Sprinkler - Nicholson Baker

I've started calling Nicholson Baker the Seinfeld of contemporary literature, because what does he write about? Nothing. And everything. Via the routine happenings and daily detours of life (that should at best be mildly interesting) he somehow engages and endears. The main difference between Baker and Seinfeld being that Seinfeld is funnier and Baker's lead characters -- Paul Chowder, in this case -- are much more likeable, loveable even.

I admit yawning through the first chapter or so of this latest Chowder installment, but thereafter I was hooked, along for the ride wherever it might lead, though if asked what the book was about could say little more than: Chowder wants to compose music and get back together with his ex-girlfriend Roz. Oh, and there's the dog, and some poetry, and Planet Fitness, and Quaker meetings, and Tyrconnell, and cigars, and more cigars, and that traveling sprinkler . . .

Why did I read this? Because. Just because. And as it turned out, that is reason enough.


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