The idea is to write about some favorite books
that you read before you started blogging!
by Nicholson Baker
The Book Description
From Library Journal: Baker’s first novel recounts one afternoon in the life of an office worker named Howie; or, more precisely, an afternoon in the life of Howie’s mind. There are more digressions, asides, and tiny facets than one can imagine fitting into an afternoon or a short novel, for that matter. Each “real” event or action, getting onto an escalator, for instance, is surrounded by the narrator’s meditations on any number of thoughts or processes spawned by that event. A notable departure from traditional novel form is the extensive use of often lengthy footnotes, wherein many of the digressions take place. The line between the footnotes and the main text in fact tends to blur, with the reader drawn repeatedly into the highly detailed odysseys of the footnotes and then pulled back out. A very funny, enjoyable novel by a writer whose work frequently appears in The New Yorker.
Why I Liked It
I really have no idea how I stumbled on this book in the first place. All I know is that I loved it and it made me laugh out loud. Not because it is funny ha-ha, but because it is so ridiculously focused on the small oddities of life. I guess I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness and trueness of the narrator’s observations — and the seriousness of purpose he applies to things such as why shoelaces seem to break around the same time.
In many ways, this book is like a Seinfeld episode — it is about “nothing” but “everything.” The book is not your standard novel in any way, shape or form. Nothing really happens. The narrator breaks a shoelace, goes to get a replacement on his lunch break, and heads back to the office. Along the way, he makes detailed observations (many chronicled in the footnotes) about every little thing he sees or thinks about — often leading him to reveries about his childhood.
This book always sticks out in my mind because I remember reading it on an overseas flight and I ended up laughing hysterically and being unable to stop. Not to say the book is that funny but there was something that tickled my funny bone and I started laughing and got out-of-control about it. You know how it is when you laugh in a confined place or where you shouldn’t and it gets worse and worse because you know you need to stop but you only laugh more? It was like that. But it might have been jet-lag warping my little brain as well. Anyway, I think this is a little gem of a book.