Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The Prose Stylings Of Nicholson Baker

He must be so unhappy about thisOn Monday Choire discussed Nicholson Baker's New Yorker piece about the Kindle. I finally got around to reading the thing last night, and while I am in no way qualified to address the merits of his argument (I'm enough of a Luddite that I only broke down and bought a cellphone in 2006) I will say this: I need to use the word "spinnakered" more often in my writing. Also "pheromonal."

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This looks kind of like that, that being the Sunday NYT Mag story about the man who sleeps with Nemutan, his body pillow case girlfriend.

Also. I'll be damned if you weren't already using those words? Sure do see them when I read you. (Pieces could do with some more spraying a hose, though.)

A wise man once said, “Take your time. Come back when you get it right.” So as to flesh out this comment, then, a bit of elaboration on the similarities between the Kindle story and the NYT article on Otaku culture: Both describe, I think, 2-D characters that people are getting down with in an often creepy 3-D way! Like Nemutan the anime-painted pillowcase, the Kindle 2 was born yesterday, is a cheap date when you take it to a restaurant, and what today’s sensitive man is doing in bed.

Much as certain Otaku lovers have done, albeit in the reverse (computer-rendered manga writ low-fi style…on a pillow case), Kindle owners now read literary works on a device that’s been anthropomorphized, sexualized, and idealized–Kindle adherents locate it “on a higher, purer plane” than its real-life counterpart– by design. So yeah, didn’t mean to jack the thread; I too appreciated NB’s sexy stylings here, which you’ve clearly read for yourself. But I exhort you to reread Baker’s story (It’s cute and sinister! It’s much thinner than a real book! It has tiny-round pleasure -dot keys and a control nipple! Bladders of plastic surround the box, on whose plastic strip appear the words “Once upon a time!”) with the aforementioned curious cultural phenomenon in mind and tell me that I’m wrong!

blatanville (#860)

Nicholson Baker is a phenomenal writer.
Years ago, his third novel, Vox, was listed on many "Year's Best" lists. The book runs a short 180 or so pages.

Stephen King, master of the epic-length novel, took exception that Baker's "insignificant fingernail paring" should rate so highly when a (lenghty) book by an author he liked was being ignored.

Baker used this as the jumping off point to write an article (for the New Yorker, IIRC) that traced the evolution and production of nail clippers. (the essay was re-printed in Baker's collection of essays, "The Size of Thoughts")
Basically, he got paid to write a classy, informative, and interesting "Fuck You" to Stephen King!
That, and "The Fermata" is one of the most linguistically interesting erotic novels, evah!

brent_cox (#40)

But what does Vollmann think about the Kindle?

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