After all the hoopla, Return of the Reluctant has managed to nab an exclusive excerpt from Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint:
Ben: You can’t be serious.
Jay: Oh yes, I am. I’m going to beat the shit out of the president. I’m going to bite off his earlobes and then pull his teeth out as slowly as possible. But only after I spend hours tickling him, just after I use his sternum as a footstool.
Ben: Isn’t that a bit much?
Jay: No. Not at all. He is President Bush and he is wrong.
Ben: Shouldn’t you spend your time dwelling upon the details of a stapler or contemplating how newspapers are disappearing in libraries? Or why not some nice memoir about John Updike?
Jay: No. You mistake me for a character in another book. The unseen god, whom we will not dare to mention here, for postmodernism is dead, along with irony. Besides, the god wrote those stories in simpler times. Today, in 2004, months before an election, I am Jay, the star of Checkpoint, and I wish to make a loud and resounding point.
Ben: But your god doesn’t even look like Lenny Bruce.
Jay: If Lenny Bruce would have lived longer, he would have lost his hair as quickly as our daddy.
Ben: We’re living in a work of fiction?
Ben: No real threats?
Jay: No, but I dream of hitting the president’s knees with a golf club.
Ben: He’s a bad man, but I think someone could use a hug.
Jay: You just don’t understand. Follow the footnote that leads to the 4,000 word history of the chocolate chip cookie, and you will see all.