I loved the small scale of the narrative project as many entries as there were matches left in the narrator s box It was just so, so perfect.
Baker has this way of describing some of the most intimate things you ve ever experienced the smaller experiences, the sensations and reflexes and decisions that form our daily lives Most writers wouldn t even bother describing them, but Baker manages to take them all and turn them into a beautiful, hilarious, and moving mosaic So often when I m reading his work I ll encounter a phrase that is turned out just so a comparison will pop into my head, along the lines of something I once read about Flaubert and his obsession over finding le mot juste But the truth is I d much rather read about dropping soap in the shower, or rolling belly button lint into a little tube, or about the complexities of facial hair, because, ultimately, these are all things I ve experienced okay, maybe not the beard only never have I heard them expressed so perfectly.
Absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone If ever I take a hankering to standing atop boxes on street corners and shouting at the passersby, THIS will be the book in my hand.
Reviews of life changing vintage fiction you ve never even heard of www.
com Overall, this is an interesting read in that the author skillfully let us follow a man s daily musings as he strikes a match to start the morning s fire Some musings are entertaining, some are deep, but most are not I wanted to stop reading when he examined his belly button lint and then threw it on the fire to see what colors the flame would turn and no, I don t remember the colors, but if you are actually interested, read the book it s belly button lint, for gawd sakes Yet, I persevered, and went on to learn such things as the correct way to wash, and rinse, a casserole dish In the dark Because the man does everything in the dark, to avoid the adverse effects of light screwing up his Circadian rhythms or something before it s daylight I dunno It wasn t my kind of read, but I don t fault the author for that It was skillfully done.
Emmett Has A Wife And Two Children, A Cat, And A Duck, And He Wants To Know What Life Is About Every Day He Gets Up Before Dawn, Makes A Cup Of Coffee In The Dark, Lights A Fire With One Wooden Match, And Thinks What Emmett Thinks About Is The Subject Of This Wise And Closely Observed Novel, Which Covers Vast Distances While Moving No Further Than Emmett S Hearth And Home Nicholson Baker S Extraordinary Ability To Describe And Celebrate Life In All Its Rich Ordinariness Has Never Been So Beautifully Achieved I m jealous of this guy I m jealous because he can write about nothing or next to nothing and not only keep my interest but actually get me to enjoy myself I had a friend once who, during a party game, spent sixty seconds describing paint dry and it was hysterical But that was only sixty seconds This book is another thing completely As others have said there s no plot, little character development and hardly any dialogue A man gets up or aims to get up at 4am every day during which time he lights the fire insisting on doing so in the dark , eats a piece of fruit usually an apple and then sets up his computer and begins writing A couple of hours later the family gets up, he feeds the duck, takes his fourteen year old daughter to school and goes to his job He never actually says what he s writing presumably it s this book but all he talks about is his mundane existence he really has done nothing exciting with his life in fact the most riveting bit of the book is where he describes an ant farm he had when he was young and that would ve been a damp squib had it not been for the last surviving ant who hung on in there for weeks after the rest died.
The book doesn t end it stops when he s used the last match in the box And yet it held my attention completely The only other books I d read by him before this were The Mezzanine , which this one is the most like, and Checkpoint , and the only similarity there is that they re both short.
Each chapter begins with a cheery, Good morning, it s 4 something or other, and then he just prattles on about what kindling he s using or how they ended up with a duck in the first place or the most water efficient ways of washing up He gets away with it mainly because the chapters are so short I think and in that respect the book s much better than The Mezzanine with its lengthy footnotes Some reviewers have hated it A lot don t see it as very relevant I ve not done an analysis but I wonder how much age and gender have to do with this I m a little older than the character in this book and about the same age as Baker in real life so the kind of things he talks about and moans about are the very things I talk about and bemoan.
Not for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Village Voice describes Bakers, A Box of Matches, as hypnotics and it is so very much With brief chapters and simple sentence construction, the quick style of the book keeps the reader turning the pages An impressive feat when you consider that there is no gripping intensity or action in the plot But the novella s brevity and slow river rolling movement is what keeps you with it Before you realize it, you re three miles downstream, so why not kick back and enjoy the read As any good hypnotist does, Baker doesn t let the reader idle He rings his bell and we squak like chickens He draws the reader in through beautiful eloquence of our most simplistic thoughts He grabs ahold of the intangible and paints it onto the page with words like a watercolor Lullingly Only on a occasion does it jar the reader away from the story and on those occasions it is only to note that he does it expressing thought so damn well Emmett the main gentle character permeates into your being I found myself searching in the dark to find something and when my hands tried and tried again to find the object, I became even quieter and methodical When I finally grabbed onto what I was searching for, it was a ta da moment, quiet elation in the blackness with just my hand and this object, much like Emmett when he finds the matches on the mantle in the beginning of the story It s a quiet book that had this iconic Americana feeling I would not be suprised if it surpassed the test of time and was being read well into the future It imparts wisdom and truths that would seem to not be said, but actually die off if unsaid, such as how and why to properly rinse off the soap bar in the shower after use It s a how to for all the minute things that people forget to tell young boys so they can grow up into a better man In essence the novella is all about a man attempting to capture and understand the ultimate mystery, life And at the very least, it made me want to go out and buy an ant farm.
I laughed, I rolled quickly through the contemplative pacing, and I desired to become the character, but alas I lack a fireplace To me, this book speaks what I most consider classically ideal It is not a plot driven book there really is no plot but it is a scene it is what I strove to write when I had a chance and encouragement to write for a course in college I admire Baker and let s be frank, this book is Baker writing about himself and not even really hiding it , and took much almost giggling delight in his observations, rituals, and natural flow of thought Honest, humorous, and with humility A quick and enjoyable read, and a reaffirmation for the simpler things in life.
This is a short book that took me forever to read last winter And I don t really remember if I finished it or not, or whether that even it matters I loved his little reminiscings Really They were fun Sometimes insightful, sometimes just a slice of life, etc But, for me, as the book went on it just became less interesting I loved the way his little ritual started later and later as time went on I kinda wish he had said I give up or I quit and then written a long essay analyzing his little writing experiment But, like I said, I don t think I finished it And that doesn t say much for a book.
If you re going to write a book without a plot, you d better compensate for it in some major way This doesn t it s nicely written but not entertaining A middle aged man wakes up early and lights a match for a few days in a row, while pondering his domestic life It s as boring as that sounds Baker also wrote The Mezzanine for which the plotline was A man goes up an escalator and thinks about modern life But that was an AMAZING read because the prose was so intense and often deeply insightful I d recommend that book instead A Box of Matches is just dull.
If you turned up at your agent s office, caught his attention long enough to pitch a new novel idea, and told him the novel would be structured around A Box of Matches, with each match unleashing a series of domestic anecdotes told by a very boring and precise man, your agent might throw a plant at your head Nicholson s agent, however, simply said Sounds great, can you have it by February Oh, agents Oh, Nicholson Oh, mass of unpublished unloved unwanted writers Oh dear Anyway, this is another short unoffensive interesting book from Nicholson But you have to ask yourself, with books like Checkpoint and Vox and so on, where lieth the substance with Baker These are great books but Baker prances about the place like a colossus of literature, and I think, why why why He does have the greatest beard in literary history Counts for a lot.