2011: 7. The Anthologist

“Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I’m going to try to tell you everything I know.”

The Anthologist, Nicholson Baker

       I haven’t blogged for so long that I’m sort of sick about it, and the backlog keeps piling up, but I wanted to make time to write about this book, way out of order, because a friend from work lent me this lovely book, and I want to return it, so she can cast it out into the world and let other people read and love it.  And, also, because it’s polite to return books that you borrow.

       The reason my friend lent me this book is because I was talking about poetry on Facebook - specifically, about whether anyone reads poetry anymore, and, if they do, do they read modern poetry.  And it struck up a sort of interesting discussion, and it prompted my friend (who remains nameless because people do not necessarily want their names all over the internet, even on websites written only for the writers own amusement).  And she said this book was “a love letter to poetry,” and it totally, totally is.  

       It is a novel about a poet in a funk, who is trying to write the introduction to his anthology of rhyming poems, but is unable to write it (or anything).  His girlfriend has left him, he’s unemployed, and he’s stuck.  Sounds like another one of those drippy white male books that drive me crazy, but really, all that is secondary to the real story, which is about poetry, and who wonderful it is - and how to read and understand it, and I loved it.  Makes me want to stop blogging about it and go read some poetry (something with rhyme and meter - though he manages to boost rhymed poetry while not slagging on free verse, which is a feat!).  Just a lovely read.  Read it alone for the section on the poetry of babies learning to talk (pp. 106-108 of the paperback edition), which I just adored. 

Categories:  Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017