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The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
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The Anthologist (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Nicholson Baker

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7935011,583 (3.84)49
Member:gaskella
Title:The Anthologist
Authors:Nicholson Baker
Info:Pocket Books (2010), Paperback, 308 pages
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The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (2009)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Probably a reader would get more out of this if s/he were more familiar with more poetry. I mean, I know the difference between Tennyson and T.S. Eliot, and I know enough to guess that the 'plum' is an allusion to William Carlos Williams' 'this is just to say.' But I'd never heard of Louise Brogan or Elizabeth Bishop before. Nonetheless, I was charmed by this homage to poets, poetry, and procrastination.

... Horace didn't say that. "Carpe diam" doesn't mean seize the day - it means something gentler and more sensible... pluck the day. ... pick the day, harvest the day.... Don't frreaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at a fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it. That's not the kind of man that Horace was."

"This glass of water is an essay.... Dip a spoon into [it] and scoop some of it out and hold it over a hot fry pan so that a few drops fall and sizzle and quickly disappear. That's a poem."" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I loved this book. To be fair, as a co-editor of two poetry anthologies who has faced exactly the task facing poet Paul Chowder in this novel - that is, to (co-)write an an introduction to the whole shemozzle - I could scarcely be more squarely in the target audience: but even so, I easily identified with the shambling, rather hangdog narrator and enjoyed the contrast because his deep, if exasperated, knowledge of poetry and his haplessness with almost everything else. His attitude to his ex is refreshing too - rather than being bitter or angry or cynical, he just wants her back. A really fun novel that also teaches you useful stuff - what could be better? ( )
2 vote timjones | Jan 10, 2016 |
Like a sleepy love song laced with self-doubt, anxiety, and endless distraction, harmonized to the major poets of the last two centuries. ( )
  ternary | Feb 14, 2015 |
One of those books that seems custom-written for me. An absolute delight, and I had NO IDEA it was about poetry when I picked it up. ( )
  redrabbit | Nov 25, 2014 |
Too much poetry, too didactic, and not enough story for my taste, but nonetheless it has encouraged me to look for more of Baker’s work. It’s about a man who thinks he’s a failure, but he finds in the end that he’s not. Well, not completely, anyway. That’s way too optimistic for me! A little romantic as well.That's not good.
What is good is the personality of the main character. I liked him, and Baker is good at revealing what the person is like. ( )
  oldblack | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
The Anthologist is an enjoyable novel with many shrewd and hilarious observations on poets and poetry that regretfully leaves out the most important thing about the hero.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Charles Simic (pay site) (Oct 22, 2009)
 
The romance is a thing of sweetness and delicacy, but the events are small, as they so often are in Baker's books. In his hands, remember, even World War II, the Greatest Generation's greatest epic, turned into a string of anecdotal pearls, most of them no longer than a paragraph. Like watching paint dry, is the dismissive phrase some might apply to his micro-narratives, which is exactly the wrong one, since I'm sure Baker could write a charming, brilliant book about paint drying if he felt like it.
 
Mr. Baker has written “The Anthologist” (a mild-mannered effort that could not be less like his previous book, “Human Smoke”) as if it were a rambling... monologue, a long chat emanating from the sock level of the poetry world. He slips effortlessly into the eager, friendless voice of a man who is every bit as glamorous and dynamic as his name suggests.
 
Nicholson Baker has written a novel about poetry that’s actually about poetry — and that is also startlingly perceptive and ardent, both as a work of fiction and as a representation of the kind of thinking that poetry readers do.
 
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Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I'm going to try to tell you everything I know.
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"The Anthologist is narrated by Paul Chowder - a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is floundering, his girlfriend Roz has recently left him, and he is thinking about the great poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and deserve to feel sorry for themselves. He has also promised to reveal many wonderful secrets and tips and tricks about poetry, and it looks like the introduction will be a little longer than he'd thought."."What unfolds is a wholly entertaining and beguiling love story about poetry: from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the staff of The New Yorker, what Paul reveals is astonishing and makes one realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives. At the same time, Paul barely manages to realize all of this himself, and the result is a tenderly romantic, hilarious, and inspired novel."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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