Nicholson Baker's 'The Anthologist'

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Writer Nicholson Baker has taken on phone sex, Adolf Hitler, John Updike, and presidential assassination. In his new novel, he takes on poetry.

Nevermind plot. Baker’s never cared much for that. He’s got a nerdy poet. A failed romance. An overdue introduction for a poetry anthology. That’s about it.

His anthologist-poet protagonist knows how to crack the whip of language. Ezra Pound: a “blustering bigot,” he says. Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins: “A charming, chirping crack whore.”

Mostly, Baker’s anthologist does very little, but he thinks, marvelously, about poetry. About rhythm and rhyme and meter — the march, the work song, the nursery rhyme, the limerick — and the meaning of it all.

This hour, On Point: Nicholson Baker on his new novel, “The Anthologist."

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Nicholson Baker joins us from Portland, Maine. He’s written seven previous novels, with his precise and playful stream of consciousness style, and four works of nonfiction. “Vox,” looks at phone sex. “Checkpoint” at assassination. “Human Smoke” controversially cast Churchill and FDR as World War II aggressors. His new novel is “The Anthologist.” You can read an excerpt here.

This program aired on September 9, 2009.


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