By Nicholson Baker
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781416572442, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 8, 2009
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The Anthologist is narrated by Paul Chowder -- a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is floundering, his girlfriend Roz has recently left him, and he is thinking about the great poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and deserve to feel sorry for themselves. He has also promised to reveal many wonderful secrets and tips and tricks about poetry, and it looks like the introduction will be a little longer than he'd thought.
What unfolds is a wholly entertaining and beguiling love story about poetry: from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the staff of The New Yorker, what Paul reveals is astonishing and makes one realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives. At the same time, Paul barely manages to realize all of this himself, and the result is a tenderly romantic, hilarious, and inspired novel.
Nicholson Baker is the author of nine novels and four works of nonfiction, including Double Fold, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in Maine with his family.
Librarian Nancy Pearl shares the work of a few of her best-loved poets. They include a former nun who wrote about Marilyn Monroe, a man who was left paralyzed after a bicycle accident, and writers who — despite the sometimes rigid requirements of their chosen form — find surprising, inventive ways to use words. More at NPR.org
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