Paul Bryant's Reviews > The Anthologist

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
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Apr 21, 2011

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bookshelves: novels
Read from April 21 to May 01, 2011

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 cat called Windows that lives next door. Now if you wished you could call that a metaphor for a great part of my experience of life, yes, ha ha. It looks so lovely and you reach towards it and then wrecks your face and leaves you howling. But no, I'm not complaining. Oh that? No, I haven't written a single word of it - and let me confess to you quite candidly _ I have no intention of doing so either! There, what do you say to that? Well, I've thought of a great new idea. This is the thing, right - I've just been sitting around with a tape recorder - this one here - and burbling out random observations about poetry and life and whatnot, and how rhyme has been evicted from modern poetry and how dismal that is. And how dismal I am. Yes, I know, that part of it is made up - I'm in character! I've assumed the character of someone I could have been if The Mezzanine hadn't been a smash hit. A relative smash hit, that is. I would have been the guy I'm pretending to be in this monologue I'm doing. I've already got a whole box of tapes of all of this rambling stuff. Ah well, you see, this is my great idea - I thought that I'd just send them all off to my editor at Simon and Schuster and say here you are - and she'll get some perky graduate to type it all up, and then voila! New novel by Nicholson Baker! Yes, all very Warhol. Well, that's true, that's true, but when they interview me I'm going to say No, this was a tough novel to write, every word, every verbal infelicity, every tedious non-sequitor was thought through with a brow furrowed by the uttermost of aesthetic necessity. No, they'll lap it up. No, no, that's unkind, it's not money for old rope, how vulgar you can be. I'm throwing in all sorts of cute and interesting stuff about poetry, so you get the idea you're learning something amidst all the guff. No, there's no story. It won't be that kind of book. It won't end up being filmed with jeff Bridges. Ha, can you imagine - starring Jeff Bridges as "The Anthologist"! Ah look - see here? This tape's coming to an end. Oh no, I'll use this one too - everything is grist to this ever-grinding mill. Yes, it'll go in the box with all the rest. No, we'll edit you out. The whole thing will be a slightly dull monologue. Yes, not exactly Shakes

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01/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-35 of 35) (35 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Could you do a pie chart for this one, Paul?
Is there any violence or satire?
My trouble is I don't know what I would be getting myself into if I read another one of his books (apart from Vox).
I think I'm going to have to leave him on the bookshelves of bookshops and play hard to get for a while.
I'm not convinced I need to buy and read another one yet.

message 3: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye That's great, did you bake it?
I'm thinking of doing a bibliometric pie chart for The Pale King, but I wouldn't know where to begin with the graphics.
Do you want to call it Bryant and Graye analysis?
We could be the new Myer Briggs.

Ruth I loved it, Paul.

Paul Bryant the pie chart, the review or the book, Ruth?

message 6: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye I've actually done a sample pie chart for TPK, but I can't understand the html to upload it.

message 7: by Megha (new)

Megha Ian, you can just post the link to the picture here. No need to worry about html.

message 8: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye mp wrote: "Ian, you can just post the link to the picture here. No need to worry about html."

Thanks, mp, I saved the image to my computer.
Do I have to post the image onto a data storage site, so that it has a link?
In other words, how do you post or upload your own images (like you can upload photos on your profile)?
BTW, the image saved as a .png file. Is this a problem?
Sorry to bother you with basic issues that so many others seem to have mastered to such good effect.

message 9: by Megha (new)

Megha No problem, Ian.

Yes, you will need to post the image to some data storage site. A lot of people like to use . You will need to create an account and then simply upload the picture.
.png file should be just fine.

message 10: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Thanks, mp, I'll give it a go when I get home.

message 11: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Ah, poor misunderstood Nicholson! I think you could make the case you do here about A Box of Matches, but this book is extremely instructive about detecting beats in poetry and how to use this rhythm to make a piece of writing more musical. There is a story here, between a poet and his ex, plus a terrific splurge of entertaining trivia. This review is funny but must try harder. C minus.

message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny I sympathize. There's something about Nicholson that just screams out to be parodied. I must plead guilty to a couple of offences myself.

message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Cor blimey o'riley, if it isn't the Goodreads review police! But please, officer MJ, I would like you to take into consideration my gushings of praise for no less than three other Nicholson Baker books.

message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Hi Manny - this is actually a very Manny review. You could have written it!

message 15: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Slurred speech - tick
Unsteady gate - tick
Bloodshot eyes - tick
Smell of alcoholic beverages - tick
Slowness in responding - 38 minutes, no, let him through, officer.

message 16: by Manny (new)

Manny Paul wrote: "Hi Manny - this is actually a very Manny review. You could have written it!"

I must admit, my first reaction was to wonder when I wrote it, but then I saw your name at the top.

We've been watching a Bergman movie. Not says that life is nothing like that, but is she ever wrong!

message 17: by Paul (last edited Feb 11, 2012 02:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Meanwhile we have been watching The Sopranos series three tonight. In one episode Dr Melfi explained the plot of A la recherche du temps perdu to a frazzled and irritated Tony.

"A what? a biscuit? are you saying I'm gay?"

message 18: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Manny wrote: "We've been watching a Bergman movie."

Ingmar or Ingrid?

Forgive me for being either slow or presumptuous, Manny, but is Not your partner?

message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant thanks for asking a very cheeky question, Ian. i was wondering myself!

message 20: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Paul wrote: "thanks for asking a very cheeky question, Ian. i was wondering myself!"

Yeah, a lot of people get their Bergmans mixed up.

message 21: by Manny (new)

Manny "A what? a biscuit? are you saying I'm gay?"

That is a truly great line.

thanks for asking a very cheeky question, Ian. i was wondering myself!

We figure that maintaining an air of mystery will help sales...

message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant I checked out the actual line, and have now cannibalised the above remark and stuck it in a fake To Read review in an attempt to amuse a few people and score a couple of cheap votes. The actual line was : "This sounds very gay."

message 23: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye You're going to have to supply a link if you want my cheap vote.

Koeeoaddi Is this the book for which you coined the term "noticing machine"??

message 25: by Paul (last edited Feb 03, 2015 01:50PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant some other, a David Foster Wallace, and I can't claim a coin, I think it was from a review, although that might be like Paul McCartney not thinking he'd made up Yesterday.

Koeeoaddi Oh good,. So I can filch it for my usual one sentence reviewette? I couldn't begin to write something as clever as your parody, so I may have to settle for 'Nebbishy Noticing Machine' and leave it at that.

message 27: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant yes, it's public domain!

message 28: by Kate (new)

Kate Ian-- yes do read "The Mezzanine." If you can read it fresh (without seeing it in terms of this review) it is a read charmer. Indeed, it's one of the books-on-my-shelf that will stay there because it's just... lovable. I think it shows the way a busy, literate person's mind wanders. And some of the wandering in that book is very well observed and even informational. (The history of drinking straws! The behavior of shoelaces!)
For me, sad to say, every other Nicholson Baker I read after that was in hopes of a similar experience, but hopes realized only intermittently. But "The Mezzanine"-- sweet!

message 29: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant well I thought The Fermata was also fairly good and not just another Mezzanine. Plus - Ian - it's totally filthy, so that may be an incentive.

message 30: by Kate (new)

Kate I agree that The Fermata was filthy. Not sure about other incentives, but maybe I'm just picky about my incentives.

message 31: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye I think I ended up getting it. I might read it now I know how filthy it is ;)

Melissa You described this book perfectly. Thanks for the chuckle :)

message 33: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant you're welcome!

message 34: by Janae (new) - rated it 1 star

Janae Mancheski This is the perfect way to describe what must have happened to conjure up the little bit of that book I could stand.

message 35: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant thanks Janae - some books you just have to parody

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