The Anthologist

The Anthologist
Nicholson Baker

Calling a poet old-fashioned may seem a bit redundant these days, but in the case of Paul Chowder it’s particularly apt. His taste for conventional poetic forms (he’s an advocate of rhyme and the four-stress line) makes him feel like he’s outside the mainstream, and middle-age has him wondering if he’s past his prime. Throw in getting dumped by his girlfriend and things really aren’t looking good. Baker’s signature style – a stream of what seem like creative writing exercises on mundane observations – becomes for Chowder a method of procrastination, if not repression. We start to question how honest he is being not only with us but with himself. Is he accident prone or into self-mutilation? Even poetry has its hidden costs.