Friday, October 11, 2013

Nicholson Baker rabbit

What can I say, getting the Baker rabbit was a big deal for me. I was nervous he'd say no. My first assignment at the L Magazine (back in 2011) was to write a review for House of Holes. It was my make-or-break debut. I cut my critic's teeth on that book, laughing to myself as I typed The Cock Ness Monster between quotes. To be thorough, I read most of Baker's earlier works, especially the sexy ones: Vox, Fermata--I was lining my jive, so to speak. Getting familiar with his tricks. It's one thing to talk about a book you just read; it's another thing entirely to be able to compare it to its first and second cousins with confidence. 

Room Temperature followed the sexier books--with its rocking chair reflections showing a softer side of fatherhood, and of course I couldn't ignore The Mezzanine--a modern bible of the literary world. The Anthologist closed out the stack, more straight-forward than its tangential predecessors. It's no secret that Traveling Sprinkler is a sequel to The Anthologist, meaning it's mostly for die hard fans already familiar with Baker's previous stuff; fans who might've bummed out by all the sex camp(y) tomfoolery in House Of Holes. But good for Baker; he seems to write what he wants to write. His genuine lack of pretense is what gives credence to his charm.  

Nicholson Baker drew the shy rabbit above on a slow count to five after a (common) admittance that he couldn't draw. "That's an interesting challenge," he said, looking thoughtful, his beautiful white beard ablaze. When we were done, I walked away high on my prize, keeping my sweaty fingers off the jacket on the way to my car. It's one thing to get a rabbit just to see what it'll look like. It's another to shake your hero's hand and see that he's just as nice as you imagined he'd be.

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