A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker
A Novel (Baker, Nicholson)

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Synopsis

Emmett has a wife and two children, a cat, and a duck, and he wants to know what life is about. Every day he gets up before dawn, makes a cup of coffee in the dark, lights a fire with one wooden match, and thinks.

What Emmett thinks about is the subject of this wise and closely observed novel, which covers vast distances while moving no further than Emmett’s hearth and home. Nicholson Baker’s extraordinary ability to describe and celebrate life in all its rich ordinariness has never been so beautifully achieved.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Nicholson Baker

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Nicholson Baker is the author of nine novels and five works of nonfiction, including The Anthologist, Human Smoke, and Double Fold (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award). He lives in Maine with his family.
 
Published March 9, 2004 by Vintage. 192 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Box of Matches

Kirkus Reviews

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There are, admittedly, other matters, conveyed often with considerable charm: amusing descriptions of the family’s pet duck (named Gertrude), the tale of a doomed ant farm, tender observations about Phoebe (14 and self-conscious), a recounting of Emmett’s first date with wife Claire (a walk to a ...

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The Guardian

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A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker Chatto & Windus £10, pp176 Only Nicholson Baker could get away with this.

Feb 09 2003 | Read Full Review of A Box of Matches: A Novel (Ba...

The Guardian

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Talking about sawing wood as opposed to chopping it, he, or Emmett, says: "But a handsaw will slide right through with wondrous ease, sprinkling handfuls of sawdust out of either side of the cut, like - like I can't think what - like a sower sowing seeds, perhaps."

Dec 27 2003 | Read Full Review of A Box of Matches: A Novel (Ba...

Publishers Weekly

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Baker struggles to manufacture drama ("Last night my sleep was threatened by a toe-hole in my sock"), and his prose is evocative (a match bursting into flame becomes a "dandelion head of little sparks").

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Star Tribune

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Every morning Emmett, a middle-aged textbook editor who lives in a drafty 18th-century New England farmhouse, wakes before dawn, and careful not to disturb his wife and sleeping children, starts a fire with a single match, puts on a pot of coffee, and thinks.

Jan 18 2003 | Read Full Review of A Box of Matches: A Novel (Ba...

AV Club

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Little things and big things get equal shrift in a mix of memories and of-the-moment sensations, such that watching his toes react to a dropped bar of soap proves just as moving as anecdotes about his young son's wide-eyed charm.

Jan 31 2003 | Read Full Review of A Box of Matches: A Novel (Ba...

Entertainment Weekly

Emmett, a thoroughly pleasant middle-aged textbook editor, starts rising from bed at 4 a.m. to sit by the fire, sip coffee, and calmly mull over the passing of time.

Jan 17 2003 | Read Full Review of A Box of Matches: A Novel (Ba...

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