Wisdom Coupon: Nicholson Baker

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“Minor, major—those words have never done much for me. I don’t understand them. The question any novel is really trying to answer is, Is life worth living? That’s a major question, a huge question, but the best way to ­answer it might not be to crank the novelistic universe into a crude, lurching ­motion by employing a big inciting incident. Sometimes life provides only the tiniest of inciting incidents—that your left shoelace snaps within a day of your right one. That’s enough for me. When something is beautiful, it can’t be minor. Also I think it’s neat when a novel offers you miscellaneous helpful tips or tricks or facts. When it’s a friendly companion, when it does you good on various levels. A lot of novels bully us into assenting to their importance. I’m tired of that.” — Nicholson Baker, The Art of Fiction No. 212