30 March 2014

The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker

I came to this book at the exact right moment of my life to really, really appreciate it. The themes of procrastination, literary appreciation, loneliness and failure really resonated with me, and I really wanted to spend all my time reading it instead of doing my own writing.

At the same time, I can easily see why someone would not like the book. The narrative voice is a bit annoying --  I think if it hadn't been for the fact that a friend recommended the book to me and I read it somewhat through the lens of his appreciation, I might have found it unbearable -- though it does get better after a few chapters. The narrator/protagonist is a bit of a failure, which may irritate some readers. I think Baker manages to keep him from being so pathetic as to be grating, but others may disagree. People may also find his pontificating lectures on poetry obnoxious. I was strangely tolerant of them, even though I didn't always buy into his ideas, and he keeps hammering the same ideas over and over. But it was nice to read someone's strong opinions on what poetry is like and how it works. It was also nice to be reminded of the whole contemporary poetry scene and what a small and inter-connected circle it can be; this group of authors and critics and appreciators who work together to keep poetry going. A few of my good friends in grad school were very much a part of that scene, and I miss having more proximity to it.

I don't think it's an amazing book; actually, I think most people probably would not like it. But it was just right for me right now.

1 comment:

hopy said...
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