Friday, 19 August 2011

Checkpoint

Finished August 18
Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker
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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