Monday, August 16, 2004

CHECKPOINT Posted by Hello

I'm no big fan of the fiction of Nicholson Baker--I succumbed to the hype and read his phone sex novel VOX when it came out and found it a pretty thin piece of work (its probably best known today because Monica Lewinsky gave a copy to President Bill). I liked his essays alot more, particularly a quirky little piece on punctuation that used his sometimes wearying fascination with minutiae to good effect. His crusade for the preservation of paper documents in the library system was important and valiant work, and recently resulted in some early Peanuts strips being unearthed for reprint.

The controversy of his earlier work is nothing compared to that accompanying his new novel Checkpoint, which describes a character (named Jay, ahem) who contemplates the murder of George W. Bush. Now, even before the novel is released, sides are predictably being formed--SHALLOW PROVOCATEUR! LIBERAL HATE MONGER! etc, etc, etc. I have my doubts about the novel, mainly because Baker has never shown himself to be a political writer in any sense of the word. I remain to be convinced. Here's a very good in depth review from the Elegant Variation (aka Mark Servas).

(thanks to the primo bookblogs Rake's Progress and Maud Newton for much of the above info).