Adventures in the Everyday

The hero of Nicholson Baker's delightful new novel embraces life without ever leaving his armchair

The premise of Nicholson Baker's A Box of Matches (Random House; 178 pages) is so wondrously slight, it's hardly there at all. Emmett, 44, is an editor of medical textbooks who lives in an old farmhouse in the country with his wife and two children. Every morning at 4 or 5, Emmett goes downstairs, lights a fire and sits by it, "the sole node of wakefulness at the heart of the sleeping world." He thinks about small, inconsequential things: the furious way his pet duck pecks at a frozen log "as if she were Teletyping a wire service story on it"...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!