Monday, June 8, 2009

Review of A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker

A Box of Matches A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a sweet little book built out of the ruminations of a family man as he gets up and starts a fire each winter morning. Anyone with a family will recognize the relish with which he microscopically details his morning hour alone. It is in these permutations of quietude that Baker hits his stride.

The narrator is alone with his ego, abstractly relating himself to his family and the world as he tends the fire, playing the mild self-congratulatory games with himself we all play. The characters depicted here hardly develop or really come into full view, maybe because it is hard to see clearly that early in the morning. At least until he makes the coffee.

The Mezzanine, a similarly short and heavily-structured meditation buffered with enough footnotes to make David Foster Wallace sweat, came out when I was in college and made Baker all the rage. This book I find to be less gauntlet-dropping and a little more endearing, though and, truth be told, a little tedious at times. It did made me want to read his more renowned books again.

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1 comment:

  1. A strange and endearing book about a strange and endearing man.

    I kept expecting something to happen, but nothing ever did. A good mirror to most of our lives in that respect I suppose.

    If the book had been longer it might have been a struggle to continue, but these few pages were more than enough to paint an interesting picture.