A BOX OF MATCHES (2003) 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… 2003-01-07 Fiction
Book Review

A BOX OF MATCHES (2003)

EW's GRADE
B-

Details Release Date: Jan 07, 2003; Writer: Nicholson Baker; Genre: Fiction

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. At one point, he literally contemplates his navel: ''I rolled the lint into a tube....'' In what passes for high drama, he comes down with the flu. The Mezzanine, Baker's 1986 novel, is a masterpiece of the miniature, an absorbing comedy built from observations on doorknobs and shoelaces. Emmett's musings in A Box of Matches -- on pet food, train horns, windshield-wiper fluid -- are similarly modest but lack any sustained connection with the world at large and offer only the tiniest of pleasures.

Originally posted Jan 17, 2003 Published in issue #691 Jan 17, 2003 Order article reprints