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Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Anthologist, 18 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The Anthologist (Paperback)
This is a mischievous piece of work: a non-fictional discourse that is posing as a novel. To have it described as such would perhaps please its author, because Nicholson Baker is known to be a whimsical, self-indulgent person. The Anthologist has a story line, of sorts. It is about Paul Chowder, a minor American poet, who has been contracted by a publisher to compile an anthology of rhymed verse. But Paul has a couple of problems: One, he is also required to write an introduction of some forty pages and finds he has writer's block; two, his long term girl friend Roz, frustrated with his lack of progress with the assignment, decides to leave him. He believes that only when he completes the job will she return to him. What follows is a poetry workshop in fictional form, in which Baker ruminates on what makes a poem, and a narrative comprised of vignettes of characters around him. These include his editor, a couple of fellow-writers (who may be merely a figment of his imagination) and a neighbour for whom he does odd jobs. The combination of these aspects makes for a fascinating read. Baker's views on the English Romantics and American modernist poets are both informative and entertaining. As the novel draws to its end the reader will realise that Paul Chowder has delivered his introduction, though rather being the intended forty pages it is virtually the length of the novel being read.
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Location: Lincoln, UK

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