Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker
A Novel

70%

9 Critic Reviews

As is the case with Baker's novels in the wacko mood, Travelling Sprinkler is sometimes infuriatingly whimsical, but more often beautiful, charming and touching. Including deviations on subjects ranging from Downton Abbey to the history of garden hoses...the book is a love story, a music lesson and a political commentary.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Paul Chowder, the poet protagonist of Nicholson Baker’s widely acclaimed novel The Anthologist, is turning fifty-five and missing his ex-girlfriend, Roz, rather desperately.

As he approaches the dreaded birthday, Paul is uninspired by his usual artistic outlet (although he’s pleased that his poetry anthology, Only Rhyme, is selling “steadily”). Putting aside poetry in favor of music, and drawing on his classical bassoon training, Paul turns instead to his new acoustic guitar with one goal in mind: to learn songwriting. As he struggles to come to terms with the horror of America’s drone wars and Roz’s recent relationship with a local NPR radio host, Paul fills his days with Quaker meetings, Planet Fitness workouts, and some experiments with tobacco. Written in Baker’s beautifully unconventional prose, and scored with musical influences from Debussy to Tracy Chapman to Paul himself, Traveling Sprinkler is an enchanting, hilarious—and very necessary—novel by one of the most beloved and influential writers today.
 

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 September 17, 2013 by Blue Rider Press. 306 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Traveling Sprinkler
All: 9 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jul 07 2013

In sparkling and witty prose, Baker reminds readers why he’s one of the masters of the contemporary novel.

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles on Oct 04 2013

Along the way he does what characters tend to do, often to exquisitely sublime effect, in Nicholson Baker novels: not much. He tends his neighbor Nan’s chickens while she’s away; exercises at Planet Fitness; gets his frequent burrito card punched at Dos Amigos Burritos...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Sep 09 2013

Yet “Traveling Sprinkler,” for all its felicities, is B-grade Baker. Graded on the curve of all his stuff, it would actually score something worse than a B. It’s his most aimless and least realized novel. At one point, Paul falls asleep while narrating it, and we sympathize. Poor guy. Poor us.

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Lawson on Jun 18 2014

As is the case with Baker's novels in the wacko mood, Travelling Sprinkler is sometimes infuriatingly whimsical, but more often beautiful, charming and touching. Including deviations on subjects ranging from Downton Abbey to the history of garden hoses...the book is a love story, a music lesson and a political commentary.

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jul 22 2013

Paul Chowder, the rambling protagonist of The Anthologist, returns in Baker’s less successful latest.

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Guidarini on Sep 17 2013

It's 291 pages of divinity, a love song to literature, a joy. And it's a testament to the continued brilliance of Nicholson Baker:

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Sep 17 2013

You read him because, at his best, he makes you sit up and take notice of things you tend to overlook. And you read him for lines like, "My role is to be here in the side yard when the moon is swimming in the deep end of the sky with the treeshapes near it."

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Sep 19 2013

...Traveling Sprinkler is a love story, but the ideas in the book are more compelling than the story itself. This is perhaps because Baker is so very in love with ideas and objects...

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Sep 20 2013

Yes, Traveling Sprinkler is a love story, but the ideas in the book are more compelling than the story itself.

Read Full Review of Traveling Sprinkler: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Traveling Sprinkler
70%

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