Nicholson Baker

Nicholson Baker’s fifth novel, The Fermata, appeared from Chatto in January.

Lost Youth

Nicholson Baker, 9 June 1994

Alan Hollinghurst is better at bees than Oscar Wilde. On the opening page of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde has them ‘shouldering their way through the long un-mown grass’. A bee must never be allowed to ‘shoulder’. Later that afternoon, Dorian Gray, alarmed by Lord Henry Wotton’s graphic talk of youth’s inevitable degeneration, drops a lilac blossom that he has been ‘feverishly’ sniffing. Bee numero due appears, taking most of a paragraph to ‘scramble all over the stellated globe of the tiny blossoms’ and further interrogate the ‘stained trumpet of a Tyrian convolvulus’. Here again, when you’re talking about bee-legs and their prehensile dealings with plant tissue, ‘scramble’ doesn’t quite do the trick.

Porndecahedron: Nicholson Baker

Christopher Tayler, 3 November 2011

‘Sometimes,’ a woman says during phone sex in Vox, Nicholson Baker’s first foray into smut, ‘I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself...

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Both Ends of the Tub: Nicholson Baker

Thomas Karshan, 24 July 2003

Howie, the protagonist of Nicholson Baker’s first novel, The Mezzanine (1988), asks whether our ‘disorganised do-it-yourself evening life’ can ‘really be the same as the...

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Larceny

Adam Mars-Jones, 24 March 1994

The hero of The Fermata has an intermittent gift for stopping time, which he exploits entirely for purposes of sexual satisfaction, but Nicholson Baker’s trademark as a novelist has always...

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Keep talking

Julian Loose, 26 March 1992

Howard Rheingold, in his recent Virtual Reality, explained the idea of ‘cybersex’: how someday we will be able to don sensor suits, plug into the telecommunications network and...

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Turbulence

Walter Nash, 9 November 1989

Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine is a book about the mind electrically at odds with vacancy and repose; about the astonishing turbulence in the little grey cells of little grey people like...

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