Both funny and serious, this novel recounts what is really going on in the head of domesticated mid-life man. As he gets up earlier and earlier each day, he rummages through the thoughts which crowd his head and preoccupy him: love and marriage, firelighters and suicide, and ant-farms.
Here is Nicholson Baker at his obsessive-compulsive best, with humour and observation to die for, but with underlying truths and sadness about the ephemerality of life, the joy of small things, the darkness which is just the other side of everyday life - all human life in a box of matches. This book gets at the real meaning of 'the examined life', and it's unmistakably serious, but also side-splittingly funny. 'It is 4.32 am...' most chapters start similarly...A man gets up earlier and earlier each day, dresses in the dark, makes his coffee and lights the fire with a box of matches, also in the dark, feeling his way around, through his silent house, where wife and children sleep, and then rummages through the thoughts which crowd his head and preoccupy him. Meanwhile outside, there's snow on the ground, Greta the duck is asleep in her dog kennel with a rug thrown over it, but that doesn't stop her bowl of water freezing each night. This is mid-life man, domesticated but still an alien creature, whose thoughts veer brilliantly from love and marriage, to firelighters and suicide, from peeing in the dark to ant-farms in the twinkling of an eye. This is virtuoso writing, idiosyncratic, brilliant, funny and touching. Nicholson Baker back on MEZZANINE form for a new generation of readers.
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Baker is possibly at his best when writing about small things, or about details. He is good on sex too, but a box of matches is more his sort of thing. For all of life is here, in a box of matches. Or all the potential of life. Potential for what? For the study of the mind of the average mid-life male, possibly the most exotic and fascinating of all sub-species of the human. Baker's loyal readership will be delighted by this book. Some members of that privileged group will lament the lack of sex; others will celebrate its relative absence. Nobody who has read him before will be disappointed, but perhaps the luckiest people are the ones who are just about to discover for themselves the wonderful Nicholson Baker.
About Nicholson Baker
Nicholson Baker has published five novels - The Mezzanine, Room Temperature, Vox, The Fermata, and The Everlasting Story of Nory - and three works of non-fiction, U and I, The Size of Thoughts, and Double Fold. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.
Box of Matches,a by Nicholson Baker
Used - Very Good
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