Nicholson Baker – USA

Linked with The Charms of Wikipedia.

Nicholson Baker (born January 7, 1957) is a contemporary American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist, his writings focus on minute inspection of his characters’ and narrators’ stream of consciousness. His unconventional novels deal with topics such as voyeurism and planned assassination, and they generally de-emphasize narrative in favor of intense character work. Baker’s enthusiasts appreciate his ability candidly to explore the human psyche, while critics feel that his writing wastes time on trivia (Stephen King notoriously compared Baker’s novel Vox to a “meaningless little fingernail paring”) … (full text).

His author spotlight on random house.

… The lies, according to Kurlansky, were told by the leaders of the democracies, especially Roosevelt and Churchill. Baker had shown, “step by step, how an alliance dominated by leaders who were bigoted, far more opposed to communism than to fascism, obsessed with arms sales and itching for a fight coerced the world into war” … (full text, June 6, 2008).

The Video with Charlie Rose in May 9, 1994, about sex and the death: with Erica Jong, Robert Olen Butler and Nicholson Baker, 58 minutes, added March 7, 2007.

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Nicholson Baker – USA

A Debunker on the Road to World War II.

… The novelist Nicholson Baker’s customary style in books like “The Mezzanine” and “Room Temperature” is to observe the world in slow, painstaking detail, relishing the tiny moment, enjoying the aside for the sake of accuracy, insisting on charting the precise state of things. He has now applied this system to history, to the few years before the United States declared war on Japan and entered into World War II as a full participant. It is clear Baker has not done this as a literary exercise, nor as a new way of amusing himself and his readers, but because of a passionate view of how the war against Germany was conducted by Britain under Winston Churchill … (full text, March 23, 2008).

Even the staunchest opponents of the wars in Vietnam and Iraq are loath to take issue with World War II, the quintessential conflict between good and evil that became the model of a morally just war … (full text, June 12, 2008).

… To research his new book, “Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization,” which comes out next week from Simon & Schuster (March 2008), Mr. Baker read old newspapers online and on microfilm, and he lso borrowed hundreds of books from the library at the University of New Hampshire, about 20 minutes away in Durham, which had granted him professorial privileges. Until just recently, when he began to cart them back, they were all stacked in Mr. Baker’s barn: piles of Churchill; of Herbert Hoover’s postpresidential papers; war records, biographies, letters, diaries … (full text, March 4, 2008).

Was WWII A Good War? June 14, 2008.

In Baker’s new article, “Deadline: the author’s desperate bid to save America’s past,” [7] he builds the essay around four major points: a lie foisted upon the public about the care of the newspapers, the insidious destruction of original newspapers, the resultant loss of trust by the public in libraries and archives, and a set of wrong priorities leading to the misguided microfilming and destruction of the newspapers. First, there is the big lie (my words, not his) foisted on an unsuspecting American public by research libraries, archives, and historical societies. Baker starts the article by recounting a discussion with Bill Blackbeard, running the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, indicating that there is a mass destruction of original newspapers by the Library of Congress through the replacement of microfilm, justified by this institution’s lying that this was necessary because of the “diagnosed states of acidity and embrittlement” [8]. Baker questions this, cascading one inaccuracy after another about the condition of both newsprint and the utility of microfilm as a reformatting medium to demonstrate the fallacy of this viewpoint … (full text).

How I fell in love with Wikipedia, April 10, 2008.

He writes: The past that we believe in is to others a myth Outbreaks of revisionist history are questioning deeply held views People who argue that nothing should be sacred often stay attached to their own chosen taboos. Secular humanists (and here I’ll stand up to be counted) like to tell religious believers that, in an open democracy, the odd squall of outrage and offence is a tiny price to pay for the benefits of freedom … (full text).

John Walkenbach’s fan page about him.

… On a wintry afternoon last month, Mr. Baker, with the help of a visitor, reluctantly took back his first load of books. The volumes, including biographies of Hoover and Vera Brittain, the English writer and pacifist, and the letters of Helmuth James von Moltke, the German resistance fighter, filled the entire back seat of the visitor’s rented Nissan Sentra. During the ride to and from the University of New Hampshire, Mr. Baker sighed a couple of times and said, “Oh, man.” He is a tall, gangly man with long arms and was able to ferry the books 12 at a time from the parking lot to the library. The visitor fumbled and allowed Hoover and Brittain to squirt from his grasp. At the counter Mr. Baker had to leaf through a number of the books, removing torn slips and Post-it notes he had used as bookmarks, and every now and then he paused to glance at a passage. “The trouble with doing this is I’m seeing some stuff I wish I had used,” he said. (full text).

some more quotes … compiled by Michelle, on her blog ‘Random Writings’.

Writer Nicholson Baker has authored five novels, including The Mezzanine, Room Temperature, Vox, The Fermata and The Everlasting Story of Nory. He has also published U and I, a personal meditation on his ‘relationship’ with John Updike, and a collections of essays, The Size of Thoughts. Nicholson Baker lives in Maine, with his wife and children, where he is trying to write the novel he was writing before he got caught up in the issues of his latest book … (full text).

Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke offers an extraordinary retelling of the years leading up to America’s entry into the Second World War, says Tim Adams, June 1, 2008.

It is a delicious irony, but also a significant one, that “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War” (Crown, 518 pages, $29.95), Patrick J. Buchanan’s new contribution to the flourishing genre of World War II revisionism, should appear in the same season as Nicholson Baker’s “Human Smoke.” Never has there been such a clear demonstration of the way ideological extremes tend to converge … (full text, June 11, 2008).

It’s free, boasts 2.2m articles and is available in 250 languages – no wonder the nline encyclopedia is one of the most popular sites on the internet … (full text).

WEIMAR, Germany – If there were a seat of the German Enlightenment, a byword for the highest expression of artistic and intellectual achievement, it is this romantic city in the heart of Thuringia. But when it came to creating Buchenwald, one of the worst of the concentration camps, the Nazis saw no irony in placing it in the folds of these soft wooded hills, where it looks down on Weimar. It is an absurdity worthy of Camus, these poles of humanity mocking each other through the forest. The journey between the two along “Blood Road” takes minutes and covers centuries. Above the perfumed salons of Goethe and Schiller are the rancid cells of Ernst Thälmann and Rudolf Breitscheid and a legion of democrats, communists, homosexuals, gypsies and Jews. Some 54,000 died here between 1937 and 1945. That juxtaposition resounds in your head like a low, guttural wail when you read Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. It is the dreadful new book by Nicholson Baker, the American novelist, who says that the Second World War wasn’t “the good war” of South Pacific. To him, the rapacious, capitalist belligerents of the Anglo-American world were as responsible as the Nazis for history’s greatest conflagration … (full text, June 11, 2008, May 27, 2008).

Find him and his publications on wikipedia’s books and Bybliography; on Google Video-search; on Google inauthor booksearch; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

Undoubtedly, some professor will soon offer a class in “Office Studies,” where students will watch a DVD of Office Space and be assigned to read “classic” office fiction such as Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine as well as recent titles such as Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End and Ed Park’s Personal Days, the latter a welcome if problematic addition to the canon … (full text, May 25, 2008).

links:

About the American Newspaper Repository;

Rethinking Churchill and the Allied warmongers;

… “Each thought has a size, and most are about three feet tall …”, (cited in ‘The

size of thoughts’).

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