Baker, Nicholson (1957 - )

Genre: General Fiction, Non-Fiction


Novelist and non-fiction writer Nick Baker was born in Rochester, NY, on on 7 Jan. 1957, attended the Eastman School of Music (he was a bassoon player and considered becoming a composer) and Haverford College (PA), receiving a B.A. in English literature (1979). He lives in South Berwick, Maine with his family. His great-grandfather Ray Stannard (1870-1946) was press secretary to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and won a Pulitzer Prize for an 8-volume biography of Wilson entitled Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (1927-1939).

Nick Baker is well known as a critic of the destruction of paper-based media, in particular of the San Francisco Public Library's sending thousands of books to a landfill and eliminating its card catalogs. In addition to Double fold, his book on the subject, he has written a number of articles: 'Letter from San Francisco: The Author vs. the Library' in The New Yorker, 14 Oct. 1996, pp. 50-62. 'Deadline: A desperate plea to stop the trashing of America's historic newspapers' in The New Yorker, 24 July 2000, pp. 42-61 and 'Discards,' also in The New Yorker, 4 April, pp. 64-70+. The Association of Research Libraries' has a web page of (often scathing) reviews and responses to Baker's Double Fold.

It's been said that Baker has an 'almost obsessive concern for minutiae,' and he himself once said that 'his job is 'to celebrate the over familiar.'

Selected Bibliogrpahy

  • The Mezzanine (1988): The thoughts of a young male office worker as he ascends an escalator in his office building. Lots of long footnotes.
  • Room Temperature (1990): Novel in which the action spans a few minutes at a home in Quincy, Massachusetts, where Mike is feeding his baby daughter.
  • U and I (1991), a nonfiction study of how a reader engages with the work of an author, using John Updike as an example. Baker quotes from Updike only from memory.
  • Vox (1992), infamous phone sex novel.
  • The Fermata (1994): Arno Strine, a 35-year-old office temp, writes his autobiography.
  • The Size of Thoughts: Essays and Other Lumber (1996), nonfiction
  • The Everlasting Story of Nory (1998): The world through the eyes of a curious nine-year-old American girl attending school in England.
  • Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (2001), nonfiction.
  • A Box of Matches (2003), somewhat of a sequel to Room Temperature.
  • Checkpoint (2004), a novella about a conversation about assassinating the president.
  • The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer's Newspaper (1898-1911) (2005) with wife Margaret Brentano), a selection of captioned photographs of pages from Sunday editions of Joseph Pulitzer's lavishly illustrated New York paper, The World.
  • A Book of Books (2006), a visual tribute to the printed word, with photographer Abelardo Morell
  • Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (2008) a history of WWII that 'questions the commonly held belief that the Allies wanted to avoid the war at all costs but were forced into action by Hitler's unforgiving crusade.'

Selected Resources