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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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707None13,434 (3.82)47
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 44 (next | show all)
Delightful. I love the title of the anthology the titular character is struggling to write: Only Rhyme, like Forster���s ���Only Connect.��� I love the prose written as if by a poet, who says one book makes him ���think of the sound of someone closing the door of a well-cared-for pale blue Infiniti on a late-summer evening in the gravel overflow parking lot of a beach hotel that once been painted by Gretchen Dow Simpson.��� I love that his surname is Chowder and he says that ���people are going to feed you all kinds of oyster crackers about iambic pentameter.��� I love that he loves English poems best, poetry with cadences natural to English. I love that he invents a new word for beauty, rupsanil. I love that he says ���tulip bubbles��� to refer to, I think, economic cycles.

The only thing I didn���t love was ���straightjacket,��� which I scrawled on a Post-It with a page number that could have been 21 or 24. The misspelling doesn���t occur on either of those pages, so maybe I made it up. ( )
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
this book crept up on me. crept up on me and then hit me over the head. i didn't like it at first. i wondered at around chapter 6 or 7 if i oughtn't stick it in the "didn't finish" pile and move on. for some reason, though, i didn't. perhaps because i was almost halfway through and it seemed a waste to give up now. and that's when it got me. i suddenly found that i wasn't bored, but charmed. thoroughly charmed by paul chowder and his voice, which is a lot like my own voice in my head, except his knows a lot more about poetry. and mine is less fond of rhyme. this book is a love story and a love letter about language and poetry and human connection. there is a wonderful abundance of odd and exquisite metaphor. there are made up words. there are little humming snippets of tune. it's a lovely, trickling, marvellously enthusiastic and tender book. if only the cover weren't so ugly. a green shuttlecock, simon & schuster? really? ( )
  lumpish | Apr 25, 2013 |
This novel discussion of English poetry from Chaucer to Mary Oliver made me laugh, resolve to try reading Swinburne again, consider the mechanics of meter and rhyme and generally nod in agreement or pleasure. Good Read! ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
The plot is a bit thin on the ground in this book. But it's getting 3-and-a-half stars because the use of language is AMAZING. ( )
  cat-ballou | Apr 2, 2013 |
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. ( )
  aliceunderskies | Apr 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (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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To M.
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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