am 4. Dezember 1999
This book is a collection of several essays written by Baker at various times. These essays take the reader into a deep spiral of semantical minutiae. This is entertaining, despite Baker's apparent fascination for his own cleverness, but doesn't lead anywhere in particular. We learn of the history of punctuation, and of toenail clippers. It's interesting trivia that answers questions that probably would never have entered your mind. The exception to this is his essay on library card catalogs, which makes a very important and painful point. A large portion of the book is an intricate masterpiece of research about the use of the concept of mental lumber. While it is clever in countless ways, it's not very readable and is of questionable interest. If you do decide to skip it after reading the first couple pages (and that's ok,) be sure to skim to the section where he reviews CD-ROMS containing old century texts by listening to them in a CD player.
am 15. Juli 2000
After reading this book, you will never clip your toenails again without marvelling at the fine and delicate engineering that went into the noble toenail clipper. You will develop a nostalgia for flipping through the card catalog, and for the days when consumer items did not come in fashion colors and an overwhelming number of forms. We are unaccustomed to the results of such honed and loving attention paid to the quotidian. Who knew such pleasure could be gotten from the history of film projectors, or the semantic evolution of the word "lumber?"
am 16. November 1999
True to form, Nicholson Baker delights with curious arcane tidbits about everything from the making of model airplane kits to the sad fate of card catalogues. Most of it is humorous and wonderful --(in one essay, he looks up the books used as accessories in catalogues like Pottery Barn and gives us synopses on these tomes chosen only for their covers)-- but the five-part "Lumber" truly lumbers along, and should've been kept to one better-edited essay. No doubt that's why it's saved to last. Still, a good read.