Checkpoint. Nicholson Baker.

After reading The Anthologist I thought I would read more of Mr. Baker’s work. I found a remaindered copy of Checkpoint and grabbed it. This is a short novella. The action takes place in a single room over a short period of time. The scenario is the meeting up of two old friends in a Washington hotel. The one that called the meeting wants to inform the other that he is going to shot George Bush (then president). He wants to talk about his motives on tape ahead of time so that people will see that he is not crazy. The friend, rightfully, tries to stop him.

The best part of this book is that the would-be assassin does not come off as all that crazy and the conversation bashing the state of America and it politics and politicians is one that I at least can picture having/might have had in the past. The non-assassin at times even starts to say “we” when he is talking about what is wrong. He becomes impassioned and the reader gets the notion that he is getting close to joining his friend. This conversation demonstrates the profound problems in America, the richest country on earth. It depicts trying times in the West and in that sense this is a great book, it has strong representational power.

Where the novel fails is that Mr. Baker is just too funny to pull such a story off. The assassin comes off as quite funny. The novella lacks the sense of the sinister that I would think is needed. This lack creates a lack of weight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *