Book - 2004
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From Nicholson Baker, best-selling author ofVoxand the most original writer of his generation, his most audacious novel yet. Meet Jay. Meet Ben. Jay has summoned his old friend Ben to a hotel room not far from the nation's capitol. During the course of an afternoon, they will share a delicious lunch and will crack open a bottle of wine from the hotel minibar. They will chat about everything from Ben's new camera to Iraq to the unfortunate fate of a particular free-range chicken. And Jay will explain to Ben exactly why and how he is planning to commit a murder that will change the course of history.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400044009
Branch Call Number: F Bak


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Cdnbookworm Sep 06, 2011

This short novel takes place within a few short hours in a hotel room in Washington DC. The time is during George W Bush's presidency. Jay is upset about the political situation and feeling like he has to do something to change the course of history, to make a difference. He has asked his old friend Ben to drive up and talk to him, and bring a tape recorder to tape what Jay has to say. Ben is the kind of guy who, despite having a young family, also feels that he needs to nurture his friendships and be there when his friends need him.
Once Ben gets there Jay reveals his plan to kill the president. The book is a conversation between the two men, that from time to time goes back in time, over to other issues, and makes a number of diversionary tracks, but essentially is about the political situation of the time, the feelings of impotence about the reality by the common man and the need to make a difference in the world.
At first I was a bit put off, but gradually I felt myself drawn into the discussion, seeing the larger political picture, the origins of the political situation and its antecedents, and the differences a person can really make. I've always liked Baker's writing and meant to read this one ages ago. I'm glad I finally got around to it.


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