A Book We Will Be Reading
"Yet somehow Nicholson Baker has written a novel about poetry that’s actually about poetry — and that is also startlingly perceptive and ardent, both as a work of fiction and as a representation of the kind of thinking that poetry readers do. “The Anthologist” is the story of Paul Chowder, a semi-successful, middle-aged American poet trying and mostly failing to write the introduction to an anthology called “Only Rhyme.” As in most Baker novels, not much happens. Chowder sits in his workplace/barn and thinks; he shampoos the dog; he goes blueberry picking; he installs flooring for a neighbor; he pines for his former girlfriend Roz, who left him after getting fed up with his procrastination; he acquires a couple of finger injuries; he gives a reading; and finally, he sits on a panel on rhyme in Switzerland, at which he . . . well, again, it’s a Baker denouement, so not much happens, at least in terms of gunfights or ninjas."
"Rhyme and Unreason" by David Orr, a Review of Nicholson Baker's The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster, 2009), The New York Times Book Review, September 1, 2009.