|Nicholson Baker at 2013 Wordstock in Portland.|
Come to find out, Baker was also giving a reading later, which I attended, but only after I ran to the Broadway Books booth and purchased his new book, Traveling Sprinkler, the sequel to The Anthologist. I didn't know any of this would be going on until I aimlessly arrived late at Wordstock, saw him onstage and nearly had a heart murmur. I briefly spoke with him after the panel. Baker signed my copy of his new book and answered my uninformed, star-struck question, "What's the new book about?" He was in no way put out that I didn't know my fav book now had a companion; he stated during his reading that he wished all famous writers were also kind people.
Before he read, rather engagingly with the mic popped out of its stand and hunched enthusiastically over his book, he talked about writing Traveling Sprinkler. He says he wrote most of it sitting in "the most comfortable chair I own" in the most quiet place at his home in the Northeast -- inside his green KIA Rio. To finish it, he had to buy the most powerful cigar he could find, several of them, something that "smacks me on the side of the head and mops the floor with me."
Baker's work covers a broad genre palate because he writes non-fiction, and he writes what I would call literary erotica but the New York times dubs "smut." Good, funny smut, nonetheless full of sexual acrobats. I asked him how he could jump from one genre to the next, and he says he just likes to write about different things. He also likes to write his books using different techniques. For The Anthologist, he videotaped himself explaining poetic meter, iambic pentameter, etc., "until I understood it myself" -- all this, before he actually wrote a single sentence. His recording session involved a roaming lawn chair. He told the crowd he'd written a book while wearing earplugs.
At 55, he's written some 15 books and still has more to say, though he can't imagine why anyone would want to read anything more he has to write. "I always have more to say than I wish that I had to say." That's okay, Nicholson, keep it up. And thanks for the fan photo.
|N and I|