WHY does disposable culture stick around? What makes us cling to materials we're meant to throw away? In "The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer's Newspaper (1898-1911)" (Bulfinch: 132 pp., $50), Nicholson Baker and his wife, Margaret Brentano, suggest that it's partly a matter of time -- that the "low and pandering art" of one generation is documentary evidence to the next. Baker approaches this idea with the zeal of a crusader; for the last decade or so, he has fought to salvage old periodicals, even founding a nonprofit preservation group, the American Newspaper Repository. Here, he and Brentano dig into the archives, reproducing, in lavish oversized format, pages from Joseph Pulitzer's Sunday New York World, once among the most widely read papers in the United States. Pulitzer, a shrewd press baron, recognized that (as Baker writes) people "wanted a Sunday newspaper, but what [they] wanted from it wasn't really news -- it was life." Starting in the 1890s, Pulitzer revolutionized the idea of the Sunday paper by bringing comics, color art, fiction and countless other features to the World. The pages that Baker and Brentano showcase offer an amalgam of the familiar and the exotic, a vision of a distant and yet recognizable world. It's the past made suddenly accessible, since "looking at these time-tanned-pages gives a sense of the exuberance and modernness and strangeness of the turn-of-the-century city that no history book can easily supply."