His Loving Chowder

traveling sprinkler

As promised, I’m tipping you off to some of the best stuff published at The Rumpus by their new Books Editor, who happens to be me. This is from a review of Nicholson Baker’s new novel, Traveling Sprinkler, which (like Baker’s The Anthologist) is narrated by an eccentric poet named Paul Chowder.

There’s a sort of spiritual pleasantness, a pleasantness of philosophy, lingering in Chowder’s tone. Updike had his Rabbit, Roth had his Zimmerman, and Baker has his loving Chowder. He loves all sorts of things. Newcastle Brown Ale, the spare look of an empty room, W.S. Merwin’s first two initials, his Kia Rio, street sweepers, onion bagels, everything bagels, canapés, and the “lovely sexy anarchy of Mina Loy.” All told, the word “love” occurs in various forms and contexts 81 times in both The Anthologist and, spookily, Traveling Sprinkler. An e-reader makes this kind of statistic easy to find. [Chowder is] chock full of love, and he stands as a kind of positive role model for what a narrator, especially the historically cranky and crude male narrator, can be.

That splendid little piece is by Shawn Andrew Mitchell, who managed to limit himself to less than 10,000 words. I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

– Brian Hurley

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