Nicholson Baker moves from taking on libraries to taking on Bush


ffirehorse writes "According to an article in the British newspaper The Independent, Nicholson Baker, who spent much of the 1990s railing against libraries and librarians for real or imagined offenses against old-fashioned card catalogs, old runs of original-edition newspapers, and weeded books, has written a new novel consisting of two characters talking for 115 pages about ways to assassinate George W. Bush."


I think the killing of over 3,000 at the World Trade Center and more at the Pentagon as well as increases in worldwide terror claiming larger groups of people and more individuals since 9/11 such as the train bombings in Madrid specifically designed to intimidate Spaniards in their upcoming election (unfortunately successful), the grisly beheadings of not only Americans but others and incidents too numerous to mention certainly have brought us into an age of terrorism or at least an age of increased terrorism. We truly are at war, but it is a war unlike most in the past as this involves non-state organizations and groups. To write about ways to assassinate a president is in my view totally irresponsible. I haven't advocated banning this book so the free speech argument doesn't hold. But certainly I can criticize such writings as an expression of my free speech rights. As to whether that will encourage people to read the book, perhaps it might but I think the criticism is itself healthy as well. During times of war sometimes free speech is limited. I don't know that we've reached that point yet, though we are in a war situation. But again, I haven't advocated banning the book.

I'm sorry but artistic expression of what two characters discuss in a work of fiction and advocating assassination in the real world are two different things. Art is about exploring fantasies or impulses one has, whether good or bad. I am in fact guilty of the thought of assassination crossing my mind. This doesn't mean I advocate the act or would carry it out. I look for the opportunity to read, hopefully, a skillful artistic consideration of this thought. I have the sense that especially in America, we are obsessed with total realism of everything. And this past century or so trend has culminated in the reality TV pandemic. I hope this breaks down soon, so we can return, collectively to less literalism and consider the metaphorical nature of art.

Lisnews has turned into a conservobot zone. A bunch of whiny "it so unfair, libraries are liberal and don't care about my feelings" wingers who worship Ayn Rand and that veer toward self parody. If I want to poke at that lose tooth for fun I can go to, Frontpage mag and freeperland.

My use of the phrase "taking on Bush" was not meant as a political statement of any kind. It was meant as sarcasm and *only* as sarcasm. I apologize if it offended anyone.

I personally think that Nicholson Baker is an attention-seeking boob, as his previous attacks on libraries and other stunts demonstrate, and this is just another way of gaining attention. I seriously doubt the book will have any great merits as literature. This is a man, after all, who devoted another (all but completely forgotten) novel to the topic of phone sex.

Having said that, Mr. Baker and his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, have every right to publish an asinine book. Won't be the first time for either. It was kind of funny to read the publisher's spokesman say in the Washington Post today that Mr. Baker's novel would be remembered as better than anything by John Steinbeck or Upton Sinclair.

less than sign p greater than sign


(to make paragraph breaks)

or less than sign br greater than sign for line breaks. I can't show you what they really look like because

Your inclusion of these breaks will please me more than words can express.

It isn't?

The Turner Diaries is protected speech. Get over that too.

Yes, The Turner Diaries are as bankrupt and full of unadulterated bullshit as much as Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are. What robs these of their power, among rational people, is that we know the ideals in those works are bankrupt. The books are given power only by the ignorant who believe those ideals, and the other ignorant who do not understand that those ideals are bankrupt.

Actually yes! I am kind of used to people writing racist stuff. Racism exists and I live with that reality every day. The actual extermination of "undesirables" is unacceptable.

We're a multiracial family, but YES. We defend free speech, which means idiots may write and publish things like "The Turner Diaries". I'll even read it, because I want to know what those other people are thinking, especially the ones who mean harm to my loved ones.

Do you have the same opinion about William Pierce's "The Turner Diaries"? It's just an exercise of free speech to write about how great America would be if blacks, jews, and "mongrels" were exterminated, right?

And let me guess, assassination is to be understood as "taking on Bush"?

The American left has gone completely off the deep end. There is no excuse for it.

This is going to sound negative but....
I have a problem with calling post 9/11 "the age of terrorism", it is a matter of perspective. For people around the world, what we experienced on 9/11 was a tragedy but not uncommon. So I do not think that the rules regarding free speech should change.

As for assassinations of political figures, talking about it is legal (stupid but legal). Shining more light on the book by protesting and criticizing is going to bring it more attention than it deserves. (Think of Moore vs. the Right)

The vast left wing conspiracy. It is not worth responding to, take my word for it. There is no appropriate tongue in cheek emoticon or I would have used it after the Reagan closing the asylums comment.

To those of you who are already composing your flame, there is no vast left wing conspiracy and I attempted to add a bit of levity to my comment. It seemed much nicer than saying I think Nicholson Baker is a raving loon and should be locked away for his own safety.

This is chilling in this age of terrorism. To encourage assassination of a president is irresponsible to say the least. Freedom of speech does not give someone the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater. All rights come with responsibilities as well. What if someone wrote a novel advocating the assassination of John Kerry or Jesse Jackson and went into specifics on how this might be accomplished? Would those who chastise people who are upset about the anti-Bush novel not be upset themselves if the target was someone they supported? There's clearly a double-standard here. I don't believe this book should be banned, but perhaps it might be viewed as hate literature. Now I'm expressing my first amendment right of free speech to criticize this work and to encourage people not to buy this book or any work advocating assassination of any person.

He's not taking on Bush. Whadda ya bet he's in Guantanamo by August?

Anyone who is just discovering that Nicholson Baker is a bit whacked has not been paying attention. Of course, not paying attention to Nicholson Baker is quite reasonable, and this new book is unlikely to constitute a good reason to change that policy.

As for your red herring about Reagan and the asylums: It might be worth it to respond, if you can tell us who it is exactly who was ragging on about "Reagan closing the asylums".

You and pchuck need to coordinate your ideologies. This book is just one man's opinion. Really! Slamming an entire political spectrum because of what one person says about Bush. Isn't that supposed to be a left-wing tactic to begin with?

The dude exercised his right to free speech. Get over it.

I'm told Reagan closed all the asylums.

Too bad, I think they could have a new guest. Of course, the peace and quiet in which to write would be nice.

Oh, and in case you were wondering Reagan didn't close all the asylums. Reintegrating patients into society had been the APA's baby for a decade before Reagan.