Holly Troup's Reviews > The Anthologist

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
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May 09, 11

Read in May, 2011

I read several of Nicholson Baker's books many years ago, and, to be frank, I found his stream -of-consciousness style tedious, bogged down in minutiae so that it resembled the mind-workings of the self-absorbed who feel compelled to tweet, text, e-mail and blog their every thought, every sensation.
However, in THE ANTHOLOGIST, Nicholson Baker's style serves the story well.
Paul Chowder, the narrator of the story, longs for the passionate, suicidal depression of the Great Poets, but his crisis is more like a low-level "funk". Paul has writer's block and cannot finish the introduction to his anthology of poetry. Roz, his long-time girlfriend, has, in exasperation, left him, and Paul is left alone with his thoughts. Paul avoids writing the introduction. He procrastinates , pursues mindless diversions, and transparently plots to win Roz back. He feels he is a failure, but in the midst of his self-reproach and self-deprecation, Paul has Great Thoughts---Great Thoughts about poetry and music and love,Great Thoughts about the creative process and how poetry makes our lives so much richer------thoughts so beautifully expressed that this is some of the finest writing about poetry I have ever read. These thoughts scintillate and take ordinary, mundane activities into the realm of the sublime.
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