Nicholson Baker's new novel, The Anthologist, is narrated by Paul Chowder, a poet of some little reknown who is sitting in his barn most of the time trying to write the introduction to a new anthology of poetry called Only Rhyme. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is falling apart, his girlfriend Roz has recently left him, and he is thinking about the poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and actually deserve to feel sorry for themselves. He has also promised his readers that he will 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, among other things; Paul tells us about all of the great poets, from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the contemporary scene as well as the editorial staff of The New Yorker's editorial department. And what he reveals about the rhythm and music of poetry itself is astonishing and makes you realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives. At the same time, Paul manages just barely to realize all of this himself and what results is a tender, wonderfully romantic, often hilarious, and inspired novel.
The Anthologist bears all the beloved hallmarks of Baker's novels: it is witty, erudite, breathtakingly articulate and stylish, and full of the whimsical, compulsive elements that have made its author a worldwide success.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Number of pages: 256
Dimensions: 216 x 135 x 25 mm
Baker's best novel to date...It sends us back to something elemental, the wiring between sound and meaning...dazzling...You'll laugh, you'll howl, you might even recite' Financial Times 15/8 'Baker's language is full of wonder of the detail and sensous surpirse...funny, moving and utterly captivating' Psychologies September issue 'Baker has created in The Anthologist a poetry workshop in fictional form. It's instructive, quirky, and highly entertaining' The Times 15/8 'Part dotty and part devoted, the narrative voice...compel[s] us to pay attention to the world, creating a mood of sad attentiveness which is its own reward. Furthermore, readers with no special interest in poetry will learn some sensible basic things about form' Guardian 15/8 'An engaging book, humorous, whimsical' Scotsman 15/8 'An erudite, whimsical meander through Chowder's world and the illuminating role of poetry in it. Every page has some funny or melancholy revelation on the vagaries of inspiration' Daily Mail 21/8 'Chowder becomes gradually more likeable for his candour about his own uselessness and for his nerdiness -- his touching urgency on the issue of iambic pentameter, for example, or his tender analysis of Elizabeth Bishop's 'The Fish'. Baker skilfully aligns the reader's warming opinion with that of Roz, who starts to forgive her ex' Sunday Telegraph 23/8 When [Paul Chowder] touches on an adult theme, such as why his girlfriend Roz has left him, he states a brave principle -- "I'm not going to get all maudlin" -- only to break it. The interesting thing about all this is whether Baker has done it on purpose' Sunday Times 23/8 'A rare example of affectionate art, of brilliant writing that manages to collect and display the odds and ends of existence in a way that makes the reader like it and him' TLS 28/08 'A sharp, often touching character study as well as a compendium of fascinating facts. The combination of the two duly makes for a richly enjoyable read' Spectator 29/08 '"The narrator, Paul Chowder, is a poet trying to write the introduction to an anthology called Only Rhyme. He has these theories about rhyme and meter, which he's describing, as well as what is going on around him"' Interview, New Statesman 7/9 'I liked this novel. It's light-hearted but sidles up to profundity every now and again. Small things happen to Paul. He cuts his hand. He breaks his lawnmower. He invites his ex-girlfriend over to shampoo the dog. Will he get his anthology written? And if he does, will he crack up completely...A quiet Baker, but a good one.' Evening Standard 3/9 Nicholson Baker picked for 'Ten best talks and festivals' Independent 22/08 'Whimsical, love-it-or-loathe-it novel' London Paper 25/08 'Nicholson Baker's deliciously offbeat comic story does for poetry what Nick Hornby's High Fidelity did for pop music: both illuminated the enriching nature of art through the obsessions that animate and console men down on their luck...With his trademark breeziness, Baker ultimately says something exuberant about the redemptive power of verse' New Statesman 14/9 '[Chowder] keeps us in suspense. It's a mark of Baker's skill that I held back from skipping to the climax' Telegraph 26/9 'Seductively smooth...delightfully offhand' Book of the Week, Time Out 22/10 'Baker's protagonist, Paul Chowder, is a warm, genial presence whose musings are likely to spike anyone's interest in poetry' Financial Times 28/11 'A quiet Baker, but a good one' Evening Standard 22/7 'Baker's book is as insightful a work of criticism you could wish to read, in which brilliant flashes of perception are intermingled with passages that perfectly encapsulated the ennui of an unproductive afternoon' Guardian 24/7 'The Anthologist is a perfect match of style, character and subject matter' The Herald 24/7 'Why is The Anthologist such a delight? It's down to Baker's easygoing and effortlessly comic prose, and the affable charm his narrator emanates from the very first line...Chowder, with his tipsy ramblings, infects us with so much more passion for poetry than any dry old anthology introduction ever could...wonderful." Paperback of the week Observer 1/8 'A beguiling love story about the mysteries of rhyme' Daily Telegraph 31/7 'You will adore this wry, clever novel by the ever-ingenious Nicholson Baker' Sunday Telegraph 1/8 'Excellent...surely the best novel about poetry ever written' Metro 'Baker's gentle novel is well written, with much to admire' FT 28/8 'Fluent & funny' Nick Laird, Books of the Year, Telegraph 20/11