“The great thing about novels is that you can be as un-shy as you want to be. I'm very polite in person. I don't want to talk about startling or upsetting things with people.” – Nicholson Baker
Born on this date in 1957, Baker is an American novelist and essayist who has written about everything from poetry, literature and library systems to history, politics, time manipulation, youth, and sex. Among his many writing honors are a National Book Critics Circle Award, and the International Hermann Hesse Prize.
Born in New York City, he grew up in Rochester, NY, studied at both the Eastman School of Music and Haverford College, and began writing while still in school. A fervent advocate for libraries’ maintaining “physical copies” of books, manuscripts and old newspapers, he established the American Newspaper Repository to help insure that they would not be destroyed. For his ongoing efforts, he won the prestigious James Madison Freedom of Information Award.
Among Baker’s best-known works are Double-Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, and Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II; The End of Civilization. He said he likes to write what he would enjoy reading.
“(Each time) . . . I was writing I assumed it would be published under a pseudonym,” Baker said, “and that liberated me. What I wrote was exactly what I wanted to read.”
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