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The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber Paperback – February 25, 1997
Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In his new book of essays, "The Size of Thoughts," Baker deals with such weighty issues as the machinery of movie projectors and the relationship between rarity and writing on rubber. But don't get the idea that Baker's book is a frivolous rambling; included in this collection of essays is a careful mini-history of punctuation, a report on the computerization of library card catalogs, and a hundred pages devoted to an exacting essay on the word "lumber."
Arranged under six headings (Thought, Machinery, Reading, Mixed, Library Science, and Lumber), the essays in this collection range from playfully comical to earnest and sentimental. Among Baker's more informal offerings are a recipe for chocolate sauce, a collection of mistyped sentences put in poetic form, and excerpts written under the influence of "nearly a hundred dollars' worth of marijuana."Baker's sentences are rolling and pun-laden, his vocabulary sharp even under a cloud of THC. A good part of his talent rests in his ability to articulate the quirky joys and silly idiosyncrasies that we all share but are shy to admit. His "Model Airplanes" may well put many readers in toy store aisles looking for the biggest B-17 on the shelf and three little jars of olive drab. His "Clip Art" will have readers closely inspecting the chrome plating of their fingernail clippers, searching for tiny clues to their origins.
These essays and others reveal an amateur's curiosity, a dabbler's impatience, and a romantic's simultaneous love of and disappointment with the new.Read more ›
Back in rainy Britain I'd woken up with a dry mouth and aching head after one of my farewell parties in a friends house. Desperate for something to read I spied this book upon a shelf. Attracted by the tasteless pink and orange cover adorning this particular edition I picked it up and immediately disappeared, enthralled, into the lumber-room of someone else's mind. This charming book is filled with some of the irrelevant bits and pieces that somehow sneak into our brains. We turn them over from time to time, pulling them out of our subconscious like a paper covered boiled sweet from a fluff-filled pocket.
The author leads you down the byways and alleys of his thought processes, challenging and amusing you by turn and always asking questions that you wish you had thought of. This gentle philosophical meandering leads you to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes and broadens your horizons because you suddenly understand how at least one other human being thinks. It's a charming book to suit a wistful mood, a beach, a cloud, a river. Pack it in your holiday suitcase and wander gently through it at a holiday pace when the mood takes you. You won't be disappointed.
In fact, Nicholson Baker has been assaulted once or twice in the past by a reviewer or two for being a minor pornographer on the last two novelistic outings, and I guess that he is now asking for our forgiveness. He portrays himself here as a regular guy, with a great interest in the most minute particles. The careful essays are about simple things: changing your mind as opposed to making decisions, the size and shape of thoughts, and rarity in life and experience. Baker is also a physical guy and likes his hands on the machinery, so he devotes a word or two about typewriters, model airplanes, clipping your nails, and the movie projectionist.
He is a severe literary critic (refer to U and I), and Baker here elaborates his views on the literary profession which include the art of reading aloud, the history of punctuation, thoughts about Alan Hollinghurst and J. E. Lighter's The Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Things read at weddings, typos, a recipe, dewey decimal system, and books as furniture are thrown in the shuffle; glue keeps it all together. And finally a long essay about the history of lumber, where he comes out in favor of lumber, is his most strongly political. I say that I love lumber! Ever since I was hit on the head by a two by four as a child.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like some essays better than others (no surprise). He's a thoughtful, curious writer and I'm glad to have discovered him. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux
After the Mezzanine, this is my second favorite Nicholson Baker book. The book is a collection of essays, as other reviewers have noted, and what strikes me as so terrific about... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Spencer in Seattle
Credit where it's due, there's a sense in which this collection of essays merits a 5-star rating: it displays the author's impressive breadth of learning; it is, throughout,... Read morePublished on February 23, 2011 by Librum
I am re-reading this collection and I am reminded of just how much Baker has to offer readers. The essay "Books as Furniture" is a masterpiece of whimsy, sociology, tangent... Read morePublished on June 30, 2009 by A. Walsh
Based on reading just half this book I scrambled back to Amazon and ordered everything else he's written. Read morePublished on March 12, 2008 by Roy Clark
I've read and enjoyed other works by Baker (The Fermata, Vox), but this collection of magazine articles is absolute rubbish. Read morePublished on January 28, 2007 by Steven M. Anthony
This is a brilliant book. It consists of several short essays on varied subjects; fingernail clippers, a review of a slang dictionary, and the demise of card catalogues to name a... Read morePublished on April 17, 2006 by Yoshimura
The world is full of whiners, and this guy is the king. As a pup, Nicholson Baker attended the School Without Walls where, "learning has no limit. Read morePublished on June 30, 2004
A weirdly eclectic mix of topics, each of which stays with you.
The essay on card catalogs makes me want to scream and tear my hair out. Read more