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The Anthologist

(The Paul Chowder Chronicles #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  3,626 ratings  ·  774 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,626 ratings  ·  774 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Yes, hello! Take a seat - that one, please. No, just shove that stuff on the ground somewhere, it's just books and papers. Have some tea. Well, since you ask, not too bad - not too bad at all. This? Oh yes, it looks terrible doesn't it, I should have changed my shirt. It's all from this little scratch here, see? Doesn't look like much but there was a lot of blood. Well, I picked up this lovely little cat you see, and it just kind of reached out and took a chunk out of me. Just a pretty little ca ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016

Hello, this is Paul Chowder welcoming you to Chowder's Bowl of Poetry. And I'm you host, Paul Chowder, and this is Chowder's Plumfest of Poems. Hello, and Welcome to Paul Chowder Poetry Hour. I'm your host and confidant, Paul Chowder, and I'd like to welcome you to Chowder's Flying Spoon of Rhyme. And this is Chowder's Poetry Cheatsheet, and I'm your host, Paul Chowder, from hell and gone, welcoming you to Chowder's Thimblesquirt of Verse.

lion tamer

Who's afraid of poetry? Probably most of us who where f
MJ Nicholls
How true it is a poem should rhyme! For who among us prefers lemon to lime? Baker defends the rhyming verse, in prose both chaste and terse. Paul Chowder discusses meter, rests and beats—but he’s no bleater, pest or Keats. For those au fait with his minimal writings, buy this today for liminal sightings. Who says poems should be lucid? Why, that’s all froems and booshid! So: let’s go. Erudite essays on Fenton, Teasdale and Millay, so good you should buy it to-day. Can I keep this up for the whol ...more
This is a very humorous exploration of the world of poetry. The narrator is such a well-crafted character that the reader must remind him- or herself occasionally that (s)he is not reading Nicholson Baker's autobiography. Instead we have the diary of a wimpy writer, Paul Chowder, who is stuck in a rut and can't seem to climb out. Faced with the task of writing an introduction to an anthology of poetry, Paul will do almost anything to avoid the chore. He helps the neighbours, whines about the fac ...more
Christine Zibas
Oct 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is a plum. Nicholson Baker has written a totally amazing book that everyone should rush out and buy…immediately. I do not say these things lightly.

Let me start again, to give this book its just review. Is it possible for a book to be better than any graduate poetry seminar and still be hilarious? Yes, and the book that accomplished that is “The Anthologist.” It’s an unlikely combination, but when completed (to borrow a back-of-the-book blurb writer’s analogy) it’s like having witnesse
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
"I was good at what I did. And what I did was drive to poetry readings." Can you beat that for the ironic curve of a voice, flat-out convincing, accurate and yet a ringing subversion of one sentence by the following sentence. The narrator, Mr Chowder, has a fear of teaching similar to Elizabeth Bishop's: "No, no, no, no, no. I can't teach. It killeth me. Those nice kids stunned my brain. I'll never recover from that year... My own dear students were destroying 'I' for me."

And then, the taste, so
Oct 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Take one measure of writer’s block, add an equal measure of a longtime lover lost, mix in the mind of an intelligent self-deprecating, funny, out-of-sorts and out-of-fashion poet and get one of the best books I’ve read this year. It helps if you like poetry. There are a lot of references to poets and poetry gossip. But it’s all written with such ease and grace that the nonpoetry reader can still just sail through. Sad, funny, and wonderful.
Marcello S
E’ andata più o meno così: qualche sera fa entro in un locale e mentre aspetto prendo da una pila di riviste un vecchio numero di Internazionale. Lo sfoglio veloce fino alla rubrica dei libri di Hornby. Parla proprio di questo libro, L’Antologista, di un autore che non avevo mai sentito nominare. E ne parla bene.
Il giorno dopo me lo procuro.

E’ la storia di Paul che viene lasciato da Roz e quindi sta proprio giù.
In passato ha provato ad insegnare, senza successo, ha pubblicato una o due raccolt
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Paul Chowder is a minor poet and a perennial procrastinator. Although recognized at one time for a few brilliant poems, he has waned from the public eye. He is given the opportunity to resurrect his name and his bank account by writing an introduction to an anthology of poems, but he dawdles and delays the project. Paul spends his days reflecting on his career; the recent departure of his girlfriend, Roz (who left him due to his dilatory ways); the need to organize his office; his neighbors; and ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Well, this may be the most delightful book I have read this year.

Paul Chowder's life isn't going particularly well. Sometime poet and current anthologist, he is struggling to write an intro to his anthology of poetry, Only Rhyme. But his chronic procrastinating has left him without a girlfriend, without cash, and, it sometimes seems, without hope. Paul longs to win Roz back by completing the intro, but instead he seems to spend a lot of time sitting on his driveway in a plastic chair.

But Paul i
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: american
When Fiction and Nonfiction Are Like Oil and Water

This is a combination novel and friendly teacherly essay on poetry. One comment on the book as a novel, another on the book as an essay, and a third on the two together.

1. As a novel: the implied author's sense of the offhand, the corny, the careless and carefree, the vernacular, and the informal, are too easily satisfied, and they amount to too much of his sense of what contemporary writing can be. "The Anthologist" is too easily convinced that
Libbie Hawker
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Okay, I admit it. I really didn't like this book at first. I found the narrative to be distracting and gimmicky with its forced "look how charming I am! Aren't I charming?" feel. (I am using charming because I hate the Q-word and avoid it at all costs.) I was fully prepared to hate this one, to rip into it when I finally finished it and got to write my review.

To my surprise, somewhere around the middle I realized the distracting gimmick was all part of a brilliant master plan, and I found myself
Courtney Johnston
A washed-up middle-aged poet who has recently lost his girlfriend through his chronic inability to finish the introduction to the poetry anthology he's meant to be assembling (which will - if he can get it out - rescue rhyming poetry from the clutches of free verse) should not be such good company.

But right from the opening line ("Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I'm going to try to tell you everything I know.") I fell for Paul Chowder. Nicholson plays Chowder as both artful and artless. We are
Alex O'Connor
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
certainly a very interesting and unique book in the way only Nicholson Baker can provide. dragged a bit but still interesting and informative
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was a tough one to review.

This does not make my list of great books, although it does have a certain sort of mild charm.

Steven King famously called Nicholson Baker's fiction "nail parings".

I can see why, as he seems to focus on trivialities and commonplaces.

The hero of the novel is poet Paul Chowder. One suspects that this is pretty autobiographical, and that Paul Chowder is really a stand in for Nicholson Baker.

The book has little story or narrative arc and plods along relating th
Aug 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I approached The Anthologist warily, not exactly being a fan of Mr. Baker, or of the idea of fiction focused on poetry. And indeed I nearly ditched the book after 30 pages, unsure if I wanted to read an entire book about a, well, kind of loser - a guy whose girlfriend has just left him because he can't make himself write a 40 page introduction to a poetry anthology, who has no income, and who seems content having a mouse live behind the control panel of his stove. Truth be told I read the book b ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Sometimes it is hard to write reviews. When you can pin one thing down that you loved, hated, emoted over intensely, you can kind of push your way into something fast and messy. I am not a great reviewer. I do not write this for some mass consumption, that would be like holding a candle to the sun when compared to legitimate criticism, but as a practice it keeps me writing and it helps me remember which books I’ve read and how readily I should shove them down the throats of others.

I don’t have t
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Would-be scriveners, versifiers and garret-dwellers of all stripes
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work by the author
Paul Chowder, the first-person protagonist of this breezy novel, has some significant things to say about the mechanics of poetry and its place in modern culture—you'll learn a lot here, most of it painlessly—but he is having desperate difficulty saying them in a coherent, linear fashion.

Consider this sequence, a paragraph-and-a-half, from early in the novel (p.55):

"Isn't crying a good thing? Why would we want to give pills to people so they don't weep? When you read a great line in a poem, wha
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-read
4 stars for personal reasons. I don't really know how good the book is and why because It was the book I needed to read at this moment to get through my own art crisis. Damn that was some luck. It's about poetry. It's about art, but the small parts that make up the whole, the unseeable rules, the scut work, the importance of starting. Why it's called fishing and not catching. Delightful asides (the book is almost all asides) about poets great and small and how they got it done. I also enjoyed th ...more
Feb 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, poetry
I didn't just like this book, I enjoyed it. Start many things, never finish? Use distraction to keep from doing what I need to do? Hands working on one task, mind totally in another location? I identified; I sympathized. I laughed.

While he procrastinates, Paul performs useful tasks (like cleaning his office, walking the dog, mowing the lawn) and holds an inner conversation on poetry and rhyme, with side meditations on the downward spiral and mundane rhythms of his daily life. Though not really w
Sep 25, 2009 is currently reading it
Like an unsheddable low-grade epiphanic fever.
M. D.  Hudson
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I was apprehensive about Nicholson Baker’s “The Anthologist,” which consists mostly of the ruminations of a semi-failed middle-aged American poet, since I am an entirely-failed middle-aged American poet who, as can be expected, nurses a grudge or two and has, over time, become crusted over with a host of peeves and prejudices. Which is to say I’m a tough audience for this kind of book. Compounding my fear is the fact that Nicholson Baker is a wildly exuberant novelist whose fiction tends to driv ...more
Irene Kaloyannis
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
A pretty good book. The writing is observationally droll and I learned a lot. I don't agree with a lot of the opinions stated in this book (they can be very black-or-white and radical) but he may have really been onto something with his views on iambic pentameter. The ending to this book was satisfying but kind of random in a Deus Ex Machina kind of way.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Slowly savoring this. The story of a poet putting off writing the introduction to a long-promised poetry anthology. Complete stream-of-consciousness, with all the delights of that form, the nimble, quick segues into horizontal details and parallel obsessions, allowing the reader to put the story together, challenging us to stay with him through the sizzling lighting-branches of his thoughts.

And between thoughts about his girlfriend, who recently dumped him, and his neighbor's trash collecting an
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I have a bit of an attitude about this book. After reading several good reviews, I put my name on the library wait list for it. As often happens these days, the book came much sooner than I'd anticipated. So, "I'll read that someday" turned into "I have three weeks to read that."

But enough about me--for the moment. Paul Chowder is an aging poet, past his prime, whose girlfriend has just broken up with him, in part because he just. can't. seem. to manage to write the introduction to an anthology
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book. Oh my God, this book. I'd like to say I have no words, but we all know that's a rare occasion, indeed.

I picked this up for something to read on the plane to Atlanta this weekend, kind of on the fly while replacing my copy of Vox. It was there, the cover was gorgeous, and it was Baker. Sold. I started reading it at work the day I bought it...

...and I'm pretty sure that Baker was speaking directly to me personally circa 2009 when he wrote this. (Never mind that it was already published
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
This is a gem of a book and I loved reading it. Part of my enjoyment came from having read many of the poets/poems mentioned in the book and from just enjoying the book's delightful musings on reading and writing poetry, although this is not a book of poetry. The book is also laugh-out-loud funny. Nicholson Baker's writing is sly and brilliant and hooked me from the beginning.

The main character is Paul Chowder, a struggling poet, who tells us early on that "My life is a lie. My career is a joke
Sherry H
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I thought it was going to be a book about a guy writing an introduction to an anthology of poetry.

But then it turned into a textbook (and I mean that in a good way) on poetry... rhythm, meter, rhyme, duplets and triplets and iambic pentameter. It's about reading it, writing it, speaking it, singing it.

Then it turned into a "Who's Who" of 800 years of English language poetry. That will be useful to me.

It covers a lovely little failing relationship.

And it's a how-to on skin grafting, badmitton,
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
When he's at his best, as he is here, Baker can make a claim to being a sort of American Mini-Nabokov: smart, clever, witty, insightful, and eager to teach.

Paul Chowder, the book's narrator, is a hard-luck unemployed schlub of a poet and professor who's procrastinating writing the overdue introduction to an anthology of poetry he's edited. Instead of writing the introduction, which his publisher is waiting impatiently for, he narrates this book, which ends up being a fantastic (if occasionally
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Woah Nicholson Baker has a new book out? I found this randomly in the JFK Terminal 4 bookstore - I used to be such a huge Baker fan, but he had a long gap between novels, and then that novel came out about assassinating the president, and that sort of turned me off. But upon seeing this one, I gave it a chance.

It's vintage Baker - pedantic, meandering, plotless, academic... I love that about his books, so this one roped me in a bit as well. It's got no footnotes, and - gasp! - it has a semblanc
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Nicholson Baker is a contemporary American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist, his writings focus on minute inspection of his characters' and narrators' stream of consciousness. His unconventional novels deal with topics such as voyeurism and planned assassination, and they generally de-emphasize narrative in favor of intense character work. Baker's enthusiasts appreciate his ability ...more

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The Paul Chowder Chronicles (2 books)
  • Traveling Sprinkler (The Paul Chowder Chronicles #2)
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