Nicholson Baker quotes

  • I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Healing #Thinking #World

  • Books: a beautifully browsable invention that needs no electricity and exists in a readable form no matter what happens.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Matter #Needs

  • I would like to visit the factory that makes train horns, and ask them how they are able to arrive at that chord of eternal mournfulness. Is it deliberately sad? Are the horns saying, Be careful, stay away from this train or it will run you over and then people will grieve, and their grief will be as the inconsolable wail of this horn through the night? The out-of-tuneness of the triad is part of its beauty.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Running #Grief #Night

  • Printed books usually outlive bookstores and the publishers who brought them out. They sit around, demanding nothing, for decades. That's one of their nicest qualities - their brute persistence.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Persistence #Quality

  • Haven't you felt a peculiar sort of worry about the chair in your living room that no one sits in?
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Worry #Rooms #Peculiar

  • Shoes are the first adult machines we are given to master.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Shoes #Firsts #Adults

  • But spending your life concentrating on death is like watching a whole movie and thinking only about the credits that are going to roll at the end. It’s a mistake of emphasis.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Mistake #Thinking #Credit

  • Wikipedia is just an incredible thing. It is fact-encirclingly huge, and it is idiosyncratic, careful, messy, funny, shocking and full of simmering controversies - and it is free, and it is fast.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Facts #Wikipedia #Incredibles

  • I hadn't played any music since freshman year of college, more than thirty years ago, so I had to relearn everything. I started writing songs. Some were dance and trance songs (I listen to them a lot while I'm writing), and some were love songs, because that after all is what music is about - dancing and trancing and love and love's setbacks.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Song #Writing #College

  • I like shelves full of books in a library, but if all books become electronic, the task of big research libraries remains the same - keep what's published in the form in which it appeared.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Library #Research

  • I blush easily. I have difficulty meeting people's eye, difficulty with public speaking, the normal afflictions of the shy, but not to a paralysing degree.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Eye #People #Degrees

  • From my music training, I knew that, some Spanish rhythms apart, 5/4 is a time signature used only in the modern era. Holst's Mars from the Planets is 5/4. But if you speak lines of poetry in that pattern you just end up hitting the off-beats. It's only when you add a rest - a sixth beat - that it sounds as it surely should sound.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Training #Add #Mars

  • E.B. White's essays are the best things I've read about Maine - especially the one in which he's not sure if he can go out sailing any more in his sloop.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #White #Sailing #Maine

  • You can register a political objection in a number of ways.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Numbers #Political #Way

  • Wikipedia flourished partly because it was a shrine to altruism.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Wikipedia #Shrines #Altruism

  • While I was writing I assumed it would be published under a pseudonym, and that liberated me: what I wrote was exactly what I wanted to read.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Writing #Pseudonyms #Would Be

  • When I really want to be soothed and reminded of why people bother to fiddle with sentences, I often read poetry.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #People #Want #Bother

  • Many good poets are really essayists who write very short essays.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Writing #Poet #Essays

  • I ordered a Kindle 2 from Amazon. How could I not? There were banner ads for it all over the Web. Whenever I went to the Amazon Web site, I was urged to buy one.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Amazon #Site #Banner

  • I really practiced hard and got to a certain level of technical proficiency. I overcame some of my limitations. I was a hard-working, dedicated bassoonist, but I have to say I'm not a natural musician.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Hard Work #Levels #Musician

  • I think I am done with Wikipedia for the time being. But I have a secret hope. Someone recently proposed a Wikimorgue - a bin of broken dreams where all rejects could still be read, as long as they weren't libelous or otherwise illegal.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Dream #Thinking #Broken

  • When the excessively shy force themselves to be forward, they are frequently surprisingly unsubtle and overdirect and even rude: they have entered an extreme region beyond their normal personality, an area of social crime where gradations don't count; unavailable to them are the instincts and taboos that booming extroverts, who know the territory of self-advancement far better, can rely on.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Self #Personality #Rude

  • Updike was the first to take the penile sensorium under the wing of elaborate metaphorical prose.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Sex #Wings #Firsts

  • Most good novelists have been women or homosexuals. The novel is the triumphant evolved creation, one increasingly has to think, of these two groups, who have cooperated more closely in this domain than in any other.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Women #Thinking #Two

  • Most writers are secretly worried that they're not really writers. That it's all been happenstance, something came together randomly, the letters came together, and they won't coalesce ever again.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Together #Letters #Worried

  • The function of a great library is to store obscure books.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Library #Obscure

  • True, the name of the product wasn't so great. Kindle? It was cute and sinister at the same time - worse than Edsel, or Probe, or Microsoft's Bob. But one forgives a bad name. One even comes to be fond of a bad name, if the product itself is delightful.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Cute #Names #Forgiving

  • There's a time and place for the Kindle, and I own one now and have books on it that I don't otherwise have. But I don't find that my hand reaches out for it the way it does for a trade paperback, or (in the middle of the night) for the iPod Touch.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Night #Hands

  • The nice thing about a protest song is that it takes the complaint, the fussing, the finger-pointing, and gives it an added component of sociable harmony.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Song #Nice #Giving

  • The great thing about novels is that you can be as unshy 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

    #People #Upset #Want

  • One's head is finite. You pour more and more things into it - surnames, chronologies, affiliations - and it packs them away in its tunnels, and eventually you find that you have a book about something that you publish.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Tunnels #Chronology

  • Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Thinking #Should #Force

  • I've never been a fast reader. I'm fickle; I don't finish books I start; I put a book aside for five, ten years and then take it up again.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Book #Years #Fickle

  • I'm often called obsessive, but I don't think I am any more than anyone else.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Thinking #Obsessive

  • I don't do all that well in the writerly world. I'm happier being outside the flow.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Flow #World #Wells

  • There is no good word for stomach; just as there is no good word for girlfriend. Stomach is to girlfriend as belly is to lover, and as abdomen is to consort, and as middle is to petite amie.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Girlfriend #Abdomen #Lovers

  • When I first wanted to be a writer, I learned to write prose by reading poetry.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Reading #Writing #Firsts

  • Spoon the sauce over the ice cream. It will harden. This is what you have been working for.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Ice #Sauce #Spoons

  • Poetry is prose in slow motion.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Slow Motion #Poetry Is #Prose

  • You need the art in order to love the life.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Art #Order #Needs

  • Sometimes I'll spend an hour writing a tiny email. I work on it until I've created the illusion that I've dashed it off in three minutes. If I make a typo, I let it stand. Sometimes in fact I correct the typo without thinking, and then I back up and retype the typo so that it'll look more casual. I don't know why.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Writing #Thinking #Three

  • So what rhyming poems do is they take all these nearby sound curves and remind you that they first existed that way in your brain. Before they meant something specific, they had a shape and a way of being said. And now, yes, gloom and broom are floating fifty miles away from each other in you mind because they refer to different notions, but they're cheek-by-jowl as far as your tongue is concerned. And that's what a poem does. Poems match sounds up the way you matched them when you were a tiny kid, using that detachable front phoneme.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Kids #Curves #Brain

  • You can tell it's a poem because it's swimming in a little gel pack of white space. That shows it's a poem.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Swimming #White #Space

  • Perforation! Shout it out! The deliberate punctuated weakening of paper and cardboard so that it will tear along an intended path, leaving a row of fine-haired pills or tuftlets on each new edge! It is a staggering conception, showing an age-transforming feel for the unique properties of pulped wood fiber.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Unique #Leaving #Tears

  • A bee rose up from a sun-filled paper cup, off to make slum honey from some diet root beer it had found inside.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Beer #Roots #Rose

  • It's true that I don't rearrange that much in the fiction, but I feel if you change even one name or the order of one event then you have to call it fiction or you get all the credits of non-fiction without paying the price.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Order #Names #Credit

  • In my case, adulthood itself was not an advance, although it was a useful waymark.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Cases #Adulthood

  • I’ve always thought of myself as shy,
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Shy

  • You almost believe that you will never come to the end of a roll of tape; and when you do, there is a feeling, nearly, though very briefly, of shock and grief.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Life #Grief #Believe

  • First, if you love the Kindle and it works for you, it isn't problematic, and you should ignore all my criticisms and read the way you want to read.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Criticism #Want #Way

  • Rarely do pens go dry in restaurants.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Dry #Restaurants #Pens

  • I no longer want to live in an apartment furnished with forklifts and backhoes.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Want #Apartment

  • For me, as a beginning novelist, all other living writers form a control group for whom the world is a placebo.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #World #Novelists #Groups

  • The force of truth that a statement imparts, then, its prominence among the hordes of recorded observations that I may optionally apply to my own life, depends, in addition to the sense that it is argumentatively defensible, on the sense that someone like me, and someone I like, whose voice is audible and who is at least notionally in the same room with me, does or can possibly hold it to be compellingly true.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Sympathy #Voice #May

  • Footnotes are the finer-suckered surfaces that allow testicular paragraphs to hold fast to the wider reality of the library.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Reading #Reality #Library

  • Until a friend or relative has applied a particular proverb to your own life, or until you've watched him apply the proverb to his own life, it has no power to sway you.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Particular #Relative

  • Friends, both the imaginary ones you build for yourself out of phrases taken from a living writer, or real ones from college, and relatives, despite all the waste of ceremony and fakery and the fact that out of an hour of conversation you may have only five minutes in which the old entente reappears, are the only real means for foreign ideas to enter your brain.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Friends #Real #Taken

  • Sometimes I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I'd be turned into a mist and I would rematerialize in the room of the person I'm talking to. Is that too odd for you?
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Thinking #Talking #Rooms

  • The question any novel is really trying to answer is, Is life worth living?
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Trying #Answers #Novel

  • If you write every day, you're going to write a lot of things that aren't terribly good, but you're going to have given things a chance to have their moments of sprouting.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Writing #Chance #Moments

  • I keep thinking I'll enjoy suspense novels, and sometimes I do. I've read about 20 Dick Francis novels.
    -- Nicholson Baker

    #Thinking #Suspense #Sometimes