Substitute

Substitute

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher's five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker's experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, overwhelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum. In Baker's hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew—mundane worksheets, recess time-outs, surprise nosebleeds, rebellions, griefs, jealousies, minor triumphs, daily lessons on everything from geology to metal tech to the Holocaust to...
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Traveling Sprinkler

Traveling Sprinkler

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Paul Chowder, the poet protagonist of Nicholson Baker's widely acclaimed novel The Anthologist, is turning fifty-five and missing his ex-girlfriend, Roz, rather desperately. As he approaches the dreaded birthday, Paul is uninspired by his usual artistic outlet (although he's pleased that his poetry anthology, Only Rhyme, is selling "steadily"). Putting aside poetry in favor of music, and drawing on his classical bassoon training, Paul turns instead to his new acoustic guitar with one goal in mind: to learn songwriting. As he struggles to come to terms with the horror of America's drone wars and Roz's recent relationship with a local NPR radio host, Paul fills his days with Quaker meetings, Planet Fitness workouts, and some experiments with tobacco. Written in Baker's beautifully unconventional prose, and scored with musical influences from Debussy to Tracy Chapman to Paul himself, Traveling Sprinkler is an enchanting, hilarious—and very...
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The Everlasting Story of Nory

The Everlasting Story of Nory

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Our supreme fabulist of the ordinary now turns his attention on a 9-year-old American girl and produces a novel as enchantingly idiosyncratic as any he has written. Nory Winslow wants to be a dentist or a designer of pop-up books. She likes telling stories and inventing dolls. She has nightmares about teeth, which may explain her career choice. She is going to school in England, where she is mocked for her accent and her friendship with an unpopular girl, and she has made it through the year without crying.Nicholson Baker follows Nory as she interacts with her parents and peers, thinks about God and death-watch beetles, and dreams of cows with pointed teeth. In this precocious child he gives us a heroine as canny and as whimsical as Lewis Carroll's Alice and evokes childhood in all its luminous weirdness.
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The Fermata

The Fermata

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Having turned phone sex into the subject of an astonishing national bestseller in Vox, Baker now outdoes himself with an outrageously arousing, acrobatically stylish "X-rated sci-fi fantasy that leaves Vox seeming more like mere fiber-optic foreplay" (Seattle Times). "Sparkling."--San Francisco Chronicle.
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The Size of Thoughts

The Size of Thoughts

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

The Size of Thoughts, a collection of essays that have appeared in the New Yorker and other publications, includes one never-before-published piece on the world of electronics. The essays celebrate the joy--and exquisite details--of everything from library card catalogs and reading aloud to the significance of wine stains on a tablecloth.Baker turns any subject, from feeding a child to phone sex, into literature with a style that is sparklingly original, frequently beautiful, and always thought-provoking. The Size of Thoughts, through its varied forays into the realms of the overlooked, the underfunded, and the wrongfully scrapped, is a funny book by one of the most distinctive stylists and thinkers of out time.
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Mezzanine

Mezzanine

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

In his startling, witty, and inexhaustibly inventive first novel—first published in 1986 and now reissued as a Grove Press paperback—the author of Vox and The Fermata uses a one-story escalator ride as the occasion for a dazzling reappraisal of everyday objects and rituals. From the humble milk carton to the act of tying one’s shoes, The Mezzanine at once defamiliarizes the familiar world and endows it with loopy and euphoric poetry. Nicholson Baker’s accounts of the ordinary become extraordinary through his sharp storytelling and his unconventional, conversational style. At first glance, The Mezzanine appears to be a book about nothing. In reality, it is a brilliant celebration of things, simultaneously demonstrating the value of reflection and the importance of everyday human human experiences.
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The Anthologist

The Anthologist

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Paul Chowder is trying to write the introduction to a new anthology of rhyming verse, but hes having a hard time getting started. The result of his fitful struggles is The Anthologist, Nicholson Bakers brilliantly funny and exquisite love story about poetry. * * * A New York Times Notable Book, 2009 Favorite Fiction of 2009Los Angeles Times Best Books of 2009The Christian Science Monitor Best of 2009Slate.com "A Years Reading" Favorites, 2009The New Yorker Best Books of 2009Seattle Times
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Double Fold

Double Fold

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Since the 1950s, our country's greatest libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their collections of original bound newspapers and so-called brittle books, replacing them with microfilmed copies. The marketing of the brittle-paper crisis and the real motives behind it are the subject of this passionately argued book, in which Nicholson Barker pleads the case for saving our recorded heritage in its original form while telling the story of how and why our greatest research libraries betrayed the public trust by auctioning off or pulping irreplaceable collections. The players include the Library of Congress, the CIA, NASA, microfilm lobbyists, newspaper dealers, and a colorful array of librarians and digital futurists, as well as Baker himself -- who eventually discovers that the only way to save one important newspaper is to buy it. Double Fold is an intense, brilliantly worded narrative that is sure to provoke discussion and...
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Vintage Baker

Vintage Baker

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Nicholson Baker has established himself as one of our most brilliant observers of everyday experience. With his keen perception, flawless prose, and endless wit, he has composed both fiction and nonfiction that has become an essential part of our literature.Vintage Baker contains generous selections from the novels Vox, The Fermata, The Mezzanine, and A Box of Matches; essays from The Size of Thoughts; and portions of the NBCC award winner Doublefold. Vintage Readers are a perfect introduction to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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A Box of Matches

A Box of Matches

Nicholson Baker

Fiction / History

Emmett has a wife and two children, a cat, and a duck, and he wants to know what life is about. Every day he gets up before dawn, makes a cup of coffee in the dark, lights a fire with one wooden match, and thinks.What Emmett thinks about is the subject of this wise and closely observed novel, which covers vast distances while moving no further than Emmett's hearth and home. Nicholson Baker's extraordinary ability to describe and celebrate life in all its rich ordinariness has never been so beautifully achieved.From the Trade Paperback edition.
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