about to finish The Anthologist

So, I’m putting off going to read the last 30 pages of Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist (mentioned in last blog post) in my bed. I’m also putting off eating the last of a delicious carbonara I cooked myself. With all this delay from desired outcomes I’m being, in fact, a little like the narrative hero of the novel, Paul Chowder, who procrastinates like a very talented bastard of a procrastinator indeed.

My general thought is that I’ve kind of loved it, though I think I’d have liked it more if it hadn’t been so like Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled, which has a lot of the same jokes, ones which somehow don’t quite convince you to want to take in the laborious point of metre they’re illustrating. Stephen Fry’s book doesn’t pretend it’s anything other than amusing pedagogy though, and it’s more of a problem for Nicholson Baker’s book that it sometimes seems to neglect any consistent delivery of plot or drama. But really though, I’ve kind of loved it. It’s great at getting across the dissipated nature of day-to-day drip-drip creative effort mixed with slow life and this line

‘Chitle chirtle. Chirtle. Chirtle. Nice chirpin’ there, Mister Birdie! Good one. I like what you did there. That’s good! Funky bitch! Love your work!’

has been one of several that have made me laugh, as they say, out loud.

I’m writing an article on an Emily Dickinson poem – ‘Proud of my broken heart, since thou didst break it’. It’s been one of my obsessions for a while now and has caused me a few actual real sleepless nights this week as I’ve been nutting it with my head, trying to get at what it’s getting at. Anyway, I think I might have broken through a non-comprehension barrier and I’m feeling completely subsumed into the poem. I’m really living with it. I’m feeling great about that. Would like to get it published in a magazine, so I’ll let you know if that happens, dear blog!


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