Book Review: Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker

Checkpoint is an absolutely terrible book. Baker more or less writes by pouring out raw id onto the page, which in the past has made for entertaining if rather pervy prose. However, Checkpoint is a 2004-era Bush assassination fantasy rendered as a dialogue between two old friends, one of whom has apparently gone off the deep end and decided to kill the president. While Baker accomplishes his usual feat of expressing clearly and accurately the things that people think but would never, ever say, in Checkpoint that insight doesn’t lead us anywhere.

In large part this is, I think, because after the two characters have between them expressed the key dilemma of an assassination fantasy — the target deserves to die, but it would be Wrong to kill them — there’s not really anywhere to go. It’s basically the dramatic equivalent of a long blog thread on “Bush: Worst President Ever?” It would, I think, have been much more interesting if Baker had written a book about someone actually killing the president. There’s interesting conflict in killing the president, but not so much in wanting to kill the president, and only slightly more in admitting that you want to kill the president.

Originally published on LiveJournal