Thursday, March 6, 2008

Part of the story?

From Charles McGrath's NYT profile of Nicholson Baker:
On a wintry afternoon last month, Mr. Baker, with the help of a visitor, reluctantly took back his first load of books. The volumes, including biographies of Hoover and Vera Brittain, the English writer and pacifist, and the letters of Helmuth James von Moltke, the German resistance fighter, filled the entire back seat of the visitor’s rented Nissan Sentra. During the ride to and from the University of New Hampshire, Mr. Baker sighed a couple of times and said, “Oh, man.”

He is a tall, gangly man with long arms and was able to ferry the books 12 at a time from the parking lot to the library. The visitor fumbled and allowed Hoover and Brittain to squirt from his grasp. At the counter Mr. Baker had to leaf through a number of the books, removing torn slips and Post-it notes he had used as bookmarks, and every now and then he paused to glance at a passage.


Bec said...

Ah yes, I remember Baker vividly in his 'Mezzanine,' I like this form of profile; the ability to reveal so much more about a person through the use of one aspect that can be drawn out...and most importantly if its an experience, concept, or habit of the person that makes them tick. It's the fact that they are passionate about it that makes the dialogue/story unveil the persons essence.

Bec said...

oh la la! I only just got the whole 'visitor' bit! So the journalist is writing himself in that way...very clever. I didn't even catch it the first time, and I thought it was rather strange that he would repeat visitor so many times.
good one!