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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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Title:The Anthologist
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The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (2009)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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 |
A book I would recommend to anyone interested in poetry, and a book that has me thinking more and more about formalist poetry. I’ve gone back and revisited a lot of poets’ work while making my way through The Anthologist: it is part of the joy in reading a book like this. It’s a book about poetry, but the one issue I take with it is that it’s supposedly a novel: as far as plot and the narrator’s ongoing quest to write the introduction for an anthology of rhymed verse he’s collected, The Anthologist is a mess. On the other hand, it’s filled with poetic tidbits: the history of rhyme; the debates about iambic pentameter; poetic quarrels; the lives and work of many poets and their intersecting paths. It was a pleasure to read solely for these poetic meanderings, lessons in scansion and rhythm, the account of Bogan’s affair with Roethke, and how poetry is an inescapable and necessary part of our daily lives. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
A book I would recommend to anyone interested in poetry, and a book that has me thinking more and more about formalist poetry. I’ve gone back and revisited a lot of poets’ work while making my way through The Anthologist: it is part of the joy in reading a book like this. It’s a book about poetry, but the one issue I take with it is that it’s supposedly a novel: as far as plot and the narrator’s ongoing quest to write the introduction for an anthology of rhymed verse he’s collected, The Anthologist is a mess. On the other hand, it’s filled with poetic tidbits: the history of rhyme; the debates about iambic pentameter; poetic quarrels; the lives and work of many poets and their intersecting paths. It was a pleasure to read solely for these poetic meanderings, lessons in scansion and rhythm, the account of Bogan’s affair with Roethke, and how poetry is an inescapable and necessary part of our daily lives. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (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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