Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Salon: The Anthologist

The Sunday

Well, this was meant to be a Sunday Salon post, but the day got away from me.  My three kids were going in three different directions today.  But as my littlest one was drifting off to sleep, and I was rubbing her back, I managed to sneak in a few pages of Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist.  

I am finding this book very entertaining, so far.  Main character Paul Chowder is a poet who just can't seem to write the introduction to a poetry anthology that he has edited.  He's just the kind of character I can relate to right now--a procrastinator who seems to spend a lot of time inside his own head.  And he's making me think about poetry, which feels both pleasant and good for me.

I had some hesitation about reading this book, though I had heard good things and thought the subject matter sounded interesting, because I couldn't get through an earlier book of Baker's, The Mezzanine.  It was a slim little book, and also a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing, but somehow seemed much less accessible than The Anthologist.  Maybe it just wasn't the right time for me to read it, but I could not get into it, and I put it down fairly soon after picking it up.  And then I felt terribly guilty.  Because it was a book that someone had loaned me--someone who thought I would like it.  And I have to admit, I still haven't returned it to her.  And now I'm not sure I could even find it on my shelf if I tried.  Guilt, guilt, guilt, shame, shame, shame.  I am usually such a good book borrower, and I abhor this sort of behavior in others.

So all of that created a little barrier between me and Nicholson Baker's work, so I was nervous when my book group picked The Anthologist for its next read.  But I'm so glad I pushed past my anxiety about it and started to read.  I like the way Paul Chowder's mind works.

Looking forward to sneaking in a few more pages.


Molly said...

I read a library copy of this book during the read-athon and enjoyed it so much I purchased a copy for my personal collection. I learned so much about poetry from this little book and actually look forward to re-reading it sometime soon.

Gentle Reader said...

Molly--exactly, I'm already learning so much about poetry, I can tell I'm going to use this as a reference book!

litlove said...

I've had trouble with Nicolson Baker before so I'm really glad to hear about this book, and intrigued too. I'll add it to my wish list, I think, as the procrastination and the poetry both appeal to me! :)

Ti said...

Don't feel guilty about not liking the other book. As you know, sometimes a book clicks and sometimes it doesn't and often it has to do with what is going on in our lives while we are reading it. I'm sure your friend will understand.

Dorothy W. said...

I'm really glad you are enjoying this one! I love Baker -- The Mezzanine is a favorite -- and I'm pretty sure I will love this one too when I get to it. The Mezzanine may be worth another try when you feel like it (if you do!).

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--part of the reason I'm enjoying this book is that it's making me really think about poetry!

Ti--you're so right--I really can't afford to waste time on books I don't like :)

Dorothy--I'll probably give The Mezzanine another try at some point. If I can find it on my shelves... ;)

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