Deadspin has published the style sheet from Nicholson Baker’s latest, House of Holes, a self-proclaimed “Book of Raunch.”
Here are the As & Bs:
ass jeans (240; see query)
ass pants (241; see query)
asswood (57) READ MORE >
Most days, Nicholson Baker rises at 4 a.m. to write at his home in South Berwick, Maine. Leaving the lights off, he sets his laptop screen to black and the text to gray, so that the darkness is uninterrupted. After a couple of hours of writing in what he calls a dreamlike state, he goes back to bed, then rises at 8:30 to edit his work.
Last week I read Nicholson Baker’s new novel, The Anthologist, all in an evening sitting propped uncomfortably across the smaller of two sofas in my apartment. One thing about reading Nicholson Baker is in his exorbitantly minute and often startling descriptions (his first novel, The Mezzanine, is simply the thoughts of a guy during a ride up an escalator, which sounds boring but is incredible), you might think that it would then be easy to get caught up in the vibe, overthinking ideas and elements as you sit in the presence of a master doing the same. And yet, Baker is so good at catching all the spillage of thought you might have in listening to him speak, there is actually very little loosening of one’s own awareness while in the grip of even such an often everyday-aimed and frank voice as he wields. I hardly even recognized how uncomfortable I get usually while reading. It all went down, as have all of his books, leaving me hungry and excited, even in, again, a seemingly arbitrary subject matter: The Anthologist is about a guy, Paul Chowder, preparing to write the introduction to a poetry anthology. There is simply probably no one else alive who could pull this off, and Baker does, quite so.
By request, a list of 15 living writers who I would consider ‘towering literary artists,’ even though that phrase itself comes with the baggage of being a little silly, but still. These men and women all spit fire line by line, and have been doing so for many years, and continue to do so, as we speak.
This list, of course, is somewhat arbitrary in its compiling, as I just jotted down the first 15 towers that occurred to me, and there are many others that could have, should have appeared on this list, a list that likely could go to at least 30, maybe 50, and especially had I included authors with smaller yet still growing bodies of work. Here I stuck to people who mostly have published at least 8 books so far (I think here only one of them has less than that) (and if I opened beyond that this list would be easily twice as long right off the bat), and with a dearth of poets as I am not quite as done up in that area as in fiction, and therefore this list also clearly reflects my taste more than would a neutral and objective list of towering authors (i.e. a lot of people would easily switch out Lish for, say, John Ashbery, etc., or perhaps Diane Williams for J.M. Coetzee or Cynthia Ozick or John Barth): this therefore is more those who I feel towering among my own mind, in my history, but who also clearly have made their mark across the world at large. Feel free to comment and let me know all of those I left out, or make your own list, etc.
Nicholson Baker’s quirky latest novel, The Anthologist, is comprised of failed poet Paul Chowder’s ruminations on poetry and how unrequited love for it has essentially ruined his life. Through it all, though—the rejections from Paul Muldoon, Chowder’s lady friend leaving him, the failure of his floundering flying spoon poems—he clings to the words and lives of Roethke, Bogan, Swinburn, Keats and the rest with a tenacity not seen since Bob Backlund’s crossface chickenwing rampage. It has actually inspired me to start reading poetry again, which I haven’t done regularly in some time (any recommendations?). All his talk of olde timey poets has also pushed me to check out Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder, a lovely book exploring the connection between gentlemen scientists of the day and iconic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. Dudes were making enduring discoveries and creating timeless art long before they could even grow a proper pre-Victorian mustache! All very impressive. I suspect the era’s precociousness had something to do with all the frock coats, shoe buckles, pantaloons and widespread leeching. God save the Queen.
August 27th, 2009 / 12:28 pm