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Paul Chowder is trying to write the introduction to a new anthology of rhyming verse, but he's having a hard time getting started. The result of his fitful struggles is The Anthologist, Nicholson Baker's brilliantly funny and exquisite love story about poetry.* * * A New York Times Notable Book, 2009. Favorite Fiction of 2009-Los Angeles Times. Best Books of 2009-The Christian Science Monitor. Best of 2009-Slate.com. "A Year's Reading" Favorites, 2009-The New Yorker. Best Books of 2009-Seattle Times.
Emmett has a wife and two children, a cat, and a duck, and he wants to know what life is about. Every day he gets up before dawn, makes a cup of coffee in the dark, lights a fire with one wooden match, and thinks. What Emmett thinks about is the subject of this wise and closely observed novel, which covers vast distances while moving no farther than Emmett's hearth and home. Nicholson Baker's extraordinary ability to describe and celebrate life in all its rich ordinariness has never been so beautifully achieved. Baker won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. He now returns to fiction with this lovely book, reminiscent of the early novels--Room Temperature and The Mezzanine--that established his reputation.
Two men - Jay and Ben - sit in a Washington hotel room. Jay has called his old friend Ben there - to tell him why and how he wants to kill the President. Jay is a bit of a loser (he's lost his girlfriend, his job, his car), generally easy-going, but now he's on edge and he's angry - and he's acquired some radio-controlled flying saws, and is working on a boulder with a depleted uranium centre. . . but he also has a gun and bullets. Ben is the voice of liberal reason, with a job and a family. Jay switches on a tape machine, and the two men argue. Well, Ben tries feebly to reason or cajole, while Jay rants and rages about everything from the horror of what happened at that southern Iraq checkpoint where US forces opened fire on a Shiite family in a Land Rover, killing most of them, and decapitating two young girls; to the iniquities of the present administration, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. , and abortion (if they're against abortion, how come they can kill women and children?), not to mention the napalm-like substance ('improved fire jelly') used in bombs in Iraq. Their dialogue veers from chilling and serious to wacky and crazed (Bush, says Jay, is 'one dead armadillo'). CHECKPOINT is a novel about a man pushed to the extremes, by a writer who is clearly angry. Like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, it takes the temperature of America just below the surface and finds it at boiling point. . .
Since the 1950s, our country's greatest libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their collections of original bound newspapers and so-called brittle books, replacing them with microfilmed copies. The marketing of the brittle-paper crisis and the real motives behind it are the subject of this passionately argued book, in which Nicholson Barker pleads the case for saving our recorded heritage in its original form while telling the story of how and why our greatest research libraries betrayed the public trust by auctioning off or pulping irreplaceable collections. The players include the Library of Congress, the CIA, NASA, microfilm lobbyists, newspaper dealers, and a colorful array of librarians and digital futurists, as well as Baker himself -- who eventually discovers that the only way to save one important newspaper is to buy it. Double Fold is an intense, brilliantly worded narrative that is sure to provoke discussion and controversy.
Our supreme fabulist of the ordinary now turns his attention on a 9-year-old American girl and produces a novel as enchantingly idiosyncratic as any he has written. Nory Winslow wants to be a dentist or a designer of pop-up books. She likes telling stories and inventing dolls. She has nightmares about teeth, which may explain her career choice. She is going to school in England, where she is mocked for her accent and her friendship with an unpopular girl, and she has made it through the year without crying.Nicholson Baker follows Nory as she interacts with her parents and peers, thinks about God and death-watch beetles, and dreams of cows with pointed teeth. In this precocious child he gives us a heroine as canny and as whimsical as Lewis Carroll's Alice and evokes childhood in all its luminous weirdness.
Having turned phone sex into the subject of an astonishing national bestseller in Vox, Baker now outdoes himself with an outrageously arousing, acrobatically stylish "X-rated sci-fi fantasy that leaves Vox seeming more like mere fiber-optic foreplay" (Seattle Times). "Sparkling."--San Francisco Chronicle.
Shandee finds a friendly arm at a granite quarry. Ned drops down a hole in a golf course. So begins Nicholson Baker's fuse-blowing sexual escapade--a modern-day Hieronymus Boschian bacchanal set in a pleasure resort where normal rules don't apply. House of Holes, one of the most talked-about books in recent memory, is a gleefully provocative novel sure to surprise, amuse, and arouse.l that is sure to surprise, amuse, and arouse.
Unique, brilliantly-executed and sure to spark controversy and debate about our past as well as our future, HUMAN SMOKE powerfully illustrates the world's gradual and horrifying advance towards World War II and the Holocaust. Were the voices of the time predicting its inevitability? Meticulously researched and incredibly well-documented, Nicholson Baker uses sources including newspaper and magazine articles, radio broadcasts, memoirs and diaries to juxtapose hundreds of interrelated moments of decision, brutality, suffering and mercy - all cleverly structured in a series of powerful vignettes. Questioning the much-romanticised myths of the 1930s and '40s, Baker shows us that it was thanks in part to Churchill that Mussolini ascended to power so quickly, and that, before leading the United States against Nazi Germany, a young FDR spent much of his time lobbying for a restriction in the number of Jews admitted to Harvard. Conversely, HUMAN SMOKE also reminds us of those who had the foresight to anticipate the coming bloodshed and the courage to oppose the tide of history, as Gandhi demonstrated when he made his symbolic walk to the ocean - for which he was immediately imprisoned by the British. Praised by critics and readers alike for his exquisitely observant eye and deft, inimitable prose, Nicholson Baker has assembled a narrative within HUMAN SMOKE that unfolds gracefully, tragically and persuasively. An utterly compelling account of the sickening loss humanity has borne at its own hand which poses the question: Are we going down the same path again?
Bestselling author Nicholson Baker, recognized as one of the most dexterous and talented writers in America today, has created a compelling work of nonfiction bound to provoke discussion and controversy -- a wide-ranging, astonishingly fresh perspective on the political and social landscape that gave rise to World War II. Human Smoke delivers a closely textured, deeply moving indictment of the treasured myths that have romanticized much of the 1930s and '40s. Incorporating meticulous research and well-documented sources -- including newspaper and magazine articles, radio speeches, memoirs, and diaries -- the book juxtaposes hundreds of interrelated moments of decision, brutality, suffering, and mercy. Vivid glimpses of political leaders and their dissenters illuminate and examine the gradual, horrifying advance toward overt global war and Holocaust. Praised by critics and readers alike for his exquisitely observant eye and deft, inimitable prose, Baker has assembled a narrative within Human Smoke that unfolds gracefully, tragically, and persuasively. This is an unforgettable book that makes a profound impact on our perceptions of historical events and mourns the unthinkable loss humanity has borne at its own hand.
TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME, BOTH OF NICHOLSON BAKER'S BRILLIANT NOVELS FEATURING BELOVED HERO AND POET PAUL CHOWDER A New York Times notable book and a national bestseller, Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist introduces his quirkiest and most unforgettable protagonist yet, the "erudite, unpretentious, and often hilarious" (The New Yorker) Paul Chowder. Chowder really needs to write an introduction to his new anthology of verse, Only Rhyme--it's the first work his editor has sent him in months--but he's having a hard time getting started. Not only is his career floundering, but his girlfriend, Roz, just moved out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chowder can't keep his mind from drifting to the sufferings of the great poets, from Tennyson and Yeats to Roethke, Merwin, to every poet who's been published in The New Yorker. As he ponders the strange power and musicality of language, and adjusts to his newly single life, Chowder's introduction slowly but surely begins to take shape. A wholly entertaining and beguiling love story, and the first novel in the chronicles of Paul Chowder--which is followed by Traveling Sprinkler in this same volume--The Anthologist is "a loving and superbly witty homage to poetryand to life" (The Boston Globe).
The Size of Thoughts, a collection of essays that have appeared in the New Yorker and other publications, includes one never-before-published piece on the world of electronics. The essays celebrate the joy--and exquisite details--of everything from library card catalogs and reading aloud to the significance of wine stains on a tablecloth.Baker turns any subject, from feeding a child to phone sex, into literature with a style that is sparklingly original, frequently beautiful, and always thought-provoking. The Size of Thoughts, through its varied forays into the realms of the overlooked, the underfunded, and the wrongfully scrapped, is a funny book by one of the most distinctive stylists and thinkers of out time.
Paul Chowder, the poet protagonist of Nicholson Baker's widely acclaimed novel The Anthologist, is turning fifty-five and missing his ex-girlfriend, Roz, rather desperately. As he approaches the dreaded birthday, Paul is uninspired by his usual artistic outlet (although he's pleased that his poetry anthology, Only Rhyme, is selling "steadily"). Putting aside poetry in favor of music, and drawing on his classical bassoon training, Paul turns instead to his new acoustic guitar with one goal in mind: to learn songwriting. As he struggles to come to terms with the horror of America's drone wars and Roz's recent relationship with a local NPR radio host, Paul fills his days with Quaker meetings, Planet Fitness workouts, and some experiments with tobacco. Written in Baker's beautifully unconventional prose, and scored with musical influences from Debussy to Tracy Chapman to Paul himself, Traveling Sprinkler is an enchanting, hilarious-and very necessary-novel by one of the most beloved and influential writers today. .
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Nicholson Baker has established himself as one of our most brilliant observers of everyday experience. With his keen perception, flawless prose, and endless wit, he has composed both fiction and nonfiction that has become an essential part of our literature.Vintage Baker contains generous selections from the novels Vox, The Fermata, The Mezzanine, and A Box of Matches; essays from The Size of Thoughts; and portions of the NBCC award winner Doublefold. Vintage Readers are a perfect introduction to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Baker has written a novel that remaps the territory of sex--solitary and telephonic, lyrical and profane, comfortable and dangerous. Written in the form of a phone conversation between two strangers, Vox is an erotic classic that places the author in the first rank of America's major writers. Reading tour.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Nicholson Baker, who "writes like no one else in America" (Newsweek), here assembles his best short pieces from the last fifteen years. The Way the World Works, Baker's second nonfiction collection, ranges over the map of life to examine what troubles us, what eases our pain, and what brings us joy. Baker moves from political controversy to the intimacy of his own life, from forgotten heroes of pacifism to airplane wings, telephones, paper mills, David Remnick, Joseph Pulitzer, the OED, and the manufacture of the Venetian gondola. He writes about kite string and about the moment he met his wife, and he surveys our fascination with video games while attempting to beat his teenage son at Modern Warfare 2. In a celebrated essay on Wikipedia, Baker describes his efforts to stem the tide of encyclopedic deletionism; in another, he charts the rise of e-readers; in a third he chronicles his Freedom of Information lawsuit against the San Francisco Public Library. Through all these pieces, many written for The New Yorker, Harper's, and The American Scholar, Baker shines the light of an inexpugnable curiosity. The Way the World Works is a keen-minded, generous-spirited compendium by a modern American master.
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