Nicholson Baker's Checkpoint

Have you read Nicholson Baker's Checkpoint?

Of the eight books by Baker that I've read, I place this one in the running with Box of Matches and Vox for award of The Simplest. At first I thought that impression came out of the fact that the book is a dialogue between two people (like Kiss of the Spider Woman), but Baker's Vox worked that way, too. And it doesn't get much simpler than Room Temperature—guy feeds baby; guy thinks while feeding baby. But what strikes me as simple about Checkpoint is that it seems to be about just one thing: how it can feel to be a powerless citizen and sponsor of a particularly atrocious war.

Why Baker's one of my favorite writers comes through in this text as much as any of them, though the subject matter is a little bit dreary (his intention) marking the book as not my favorite:
  • he demonstrates an almost religious attention to everyday idiosyncrasies of the mind and of spoken language
  • every book has a different structure and style ... I really like that
  • and then there is the simplicity

Turning the last page, the major-bummer-of-a-thought came over me that, like so many other artists in 2004 (Eminem and Michael Moore come immediately to mind), Baker put this book out hoping, I'm guessing, to do something. The book clearly tries to oust Bush, to end the war, and then here we are, years later, and the bombs are still falling.


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