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Nicholson Baker


Nicholson Baker was born in 1957 in Rochester, New York. He was an accomplished bassoonist and attended the Eastman School of Music, with plans to be a composer. He later switched to Haverford College, where he earned a degree in English. His switch, apparently was because writers make more money and, in his view, the printed word is a higher art form. After working on Wall Street for a while, he started writing after taking a writing course and became a full-time writer. He has also campaigned, particularly against the San Francisco library, for the preservation of old books and newspapers. His minimalist works have met with mixed criticism, Stephen King famously calling Vox a meaningless little fingernail paring. Of course, I disagree with King and his silly statement shows why Baker is on this site and he is not. Baker has brilliantly managed to look at the minutiae of life in a very witty and original way and while his works may not be Nobel Prize literature, they are a hell of a lot more interesting than King’s.

Other links

Nicholson Baker
Nicholson Baker Fan Page
A Debunker on the Road to World War (profile)
Particular obsessions (profile)
A life in writing (profile/interview)
How I fell in love with Wikipedia (article by Baker)
Consciousness on the Page: A Primer on the Novels of Nicholson Baker
The Mad Scientist of Smut (profile)
Tiger on the Paper Trail (Novelist Nicholson Baker Says Libraries Will Be the Death of Documents)


1988 The Mezzanine (novel)
1990 Room Temperature (novel)
1991 U and I: A True Story (literary criticism)
1992 Vox (novel)
1994 The Fermata (novel)
1996 The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber (essays)
1998 The Everlasting Story of Nory (novel)
2001 Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper
2003 A Box of Matches (novel)
2004 Checkpoint (novel)
2005 The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper (1898 -1911) (with Margaret Brentano, his wife)
2008 Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (history)
2009 The Anthologist (novel)
2011 House of Holes: A Book of Raunch (novel)
2012 The Way the World Works (essays)
2013 Traveling Sprinkler (novel)
2016 Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids
2020 Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act
2024 Finding a Likeness: How I Got Somewhat Better at Art