Everything Is Interesting
Nicholson Baker goes back to school.
Nicholson Baker has always been an outlier in American letters. Born in 1957, he is more or less contemporary with the celebrated literary generation of David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Karr, Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, and Helen DeWitt. Like them, he marries a postmodernist elasticity of form to a realist curiosity about the vicissitudes of everyday life. Baker’s remarkable first novel, The Mezzanine, published in 1988, combined scholarly footnotes, impossibly minute hyperdescription, and gee-whiz sincerity, innovations that Wallace’s Infinite Jest would help standardize a decade later. Baker, also like his contemporaries, turned his hand to creative nonfiction after achieving some success as a novelist and published seven volumes as well as numerous essays for The New Yorker and other magazines.