The Mercantile Library continues its impressive track record of guests by inviting Nicholson Baker to read and discuss his work. The 54-year-old New York City native has tackled a number of topics and genres — from nonfiction to fiction, from books about phone sex and bottle feeding babies to historical investigations about about the insidious nature of war — in a writing career marked by his playful use of language and biting humor. Since he'll be speaking at a revered library, look for Baker to mention Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, his 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award winner about the American library system.
“I think we'll survive the tumultuous times we're in,” Baker writes when asked via email about a future that will seemingly devalue physical objects.“Books will be books and they will also be electronic groat-clusters of words. Sometimes we'll read them on silent screens and sometimes on rustling pages. Libraries and bookstores are nice places to go because each one serves up a piece of the literary universe in its own idiosyncratic way. It's fun sometimes to read near other readers and crowds of multicolored book spines."
When asked about his unconventional approach to narrative, Nicholson begs off.
"I don't know what I'm doing — I'm just trying to figure it out as I go," he writes. "The next book is the book that wants to be finished. Often I get impatient with "big" plots because they're so familiar. Murder, end of the world, divorce, a big sack race. How many times have we seen movies about the end of the world? The best and most human moments are usually the moments between big moments."
Baker will likely discuss some of those moments 7 p.m. Tuesday. $5 for Mercantile Library members; $10 for everyone else.
Go here to reserve your spot.