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Travelling Sprinkler [Kindle Edition]

Nicholson Baker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Paul Chowder is a poet, but he's fallen out of love with writing poems. He hasn't fallen out of love with his ex-girlfriend Roz, though. In fact he misses her desperately.

As he struggles to come to terms with Roz's new relationship with a doctor, Paul turns to his acoustic guitar for comfort and inspiration, and fills his days writing protest songs, going to Quaker meetings, struggling through Planet Fitness workouts, wondering if he could become a techno DJ, and experimenting with becoming a cigar smoker.

Written in Baker's beautifully unconventional prose, and scored with musical influences from Debussy to Tracy Chapman to Paul himself, Travelling Sprinkler is an enchanting, hilarious, and deeply necessary novel.

'I think the job of the novelist is to write about interesting things, including things that might not seem all that interesting at first glance, and to offer evidence that life is worth living' Nicholson Baker

Product Description


Exquisitely sublime (The New York Times)

Goofy and elegaic, intricately patterned and moving (New Yorker)

Baker's endearingly comedic, covertly philosophical love story mischievously celebrates song and silence, steadfastness and loving-kindness (Booklist)

The book is a delight: funny, tender and endearingly bonkers. A lesser writer dealing with a hapless, guitar-plucking, cigar-puffing poet on the slide in his fifties would be tempted to shovel trouble at him for comic or emotional effect. Baker does the opposite, imbuing Chowder not only with a feverish intellectual curiosity but with a generosity of spirit...Baker has a strange and interesting mind, and a life-enhancing wit to go with it. Travelling Sprinkler sees him at the top of his form. (Terence Blacker Independent)

He once again shows he's a master of gentle, obsessively detailed comedy. Terrific. (Harry Ritchie Daily Mail)

melancholic and sweet (William Leith Evening Standard)

Genial, softly upbeat, written as flowingly as if he were telling a friend about his day (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

A brilliantly clever, comic novel about love in middle-age by an American master.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1182 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1781252785
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IT03W08
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #175,297 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Travelling Sprinkler is a follow-up to Baker's novel, The Anthologist. It is written in the first person by fictional poet and academic Paul Chowder and sees Paul continue his disorganised life following the break up with his girlfriend Roz. Paul has now published his book Only Rhyme and has seem it adopted by a few colleges, pushing the sales considerably. Paul now spends his days visiting neighbours, messing about with a home music studio and plotting how to win back his girl-friend, who is still on his mind far more than she should be. He is experimenting with extra strong cigars and scorches his throat and messes up his mind with some pretty dangerous brands he finds in a local cigar store.

We are treated to Paul's thought-processes as he tries to get on with his life and this makes for a whimsical and amusing read. Many passages stand out - the barn-fire, the Quaker meetings, the uncomfortable meetings with Roz. In some ways you want to give him a shake and tell him to get a grip, but his generally chaotic life is all part of the charm of the book. In the Anthologist I learned a lot about poetry through Paul's digressions into his theories about rhyme. In Travelling Sprinkler I didn't learn much other than how you can create complex musical arrangements on your computer.

I would ideally like to give this book 4.5 stars. It only misses the fifth one because it's fractionally less good than The Anthologist but this does not mean that I don't esteem it as a great read.

Incidentally, the enhanced e-book edition of this book contains recordings by Nicholson Baker of the songs the fictional Paul produced in his studio. You can find samples quite easily by searching online for them and they sound pretty good in my opinion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By chris
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although this novel again features Paul Chowder from The Anthologist it can be read on its own and is a step up from that book in that the ramblings are broader-based and funnier. If you like plot driven books then this isn't for you. But if you like a book that pumps you full of ideas that you had never thought of before, indeed amusingly you had never wanted to think of before then you may get a lot of pleasure from it. His best so far I think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'I want to tell you something new' 8 Jan. 2015
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
"Travelling Sprinkler" consists of a monologue from Paul Chowder, the protagonist of Baker's novel "The Anthologist". Paul, a failed poet and reluctant ex-boyfriend, is recording this novel for us ("I have so much in my head that's screaming to get out. Politely requesting passage."), interspersing accounts of cigar-smoking, music-making (his compositions are available as a Spotify playlist) and Quaker meetings, with meditations on poetry, music, and anything else which comes into his head.

I loved this book. Nothing much happens, but that it isn't the point. What makes you keep reading is Paul's voice, alternating between profundity and bathos, the voice of a fundamentally decent, sometimes foolish man, trying to get through the days. I haven't read "The Anthologist", but I am now eager to seek it out and spend more time with Paul Chowder.

[I was given a free download of this book by the publishers for review.]
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 10 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
jaunty, replete with contemporary references
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