Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Human Smoke

Nicholson Baker, author of Double Fold, a book in which he takes the library community to task for throwing away printed newspapers (most likely all replaced with microfilm or digital editions) and old books (perhaps less forgivable--depending on the context), has a new book coming out next week from Simon and Schuster. For an interesting article about this book, follow this New York Times "permalink" to the March 4 review by Charles McGrath. During Baker's Double Fold phase, he bought 6000 volumes of bound newspapers from the British Library, which he stored in a warehouse. He has since donated them to Duke University (all explained in the McGrath review). Even more interesting to me, in his review, McGrath describes Baker's research process for writing his new book, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. Baker made heavy use of the University of New Hampshire libraries and primary sources: newspapers, letters, diaries--all from the 1930s and 1940s. This time he stored his (borrowed) materials in his barn!

For an interesting look at the research process read McGrath's review and when the book comes out, read that too!

Here is the New York Times gloss on the article:
Published: March 4, 2008
“Human Smoke” is an unusual book even for Nicholson Baker, whose career has unspooled in a way as unpredictable as one of his fastidiously meandering sentences.

Submitted by Rebecca Stuhr

1 comment:

Walter Giersbach said...

Nicholseon Baker is a writer with whom I'd like to sit down and drink beer--and talk. He has the qualities of an autodidact I admire, and those of a detective ferreting out truths. Further, I too was a magazine/newspaper collector. Sadly, I donated those to the U. of Connecticut--even my underground comix and alternative media. "Double Fold" and "Human Smoke" are now on my must-read list.