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The Mezzanineby Nicholson Baker
The Mezzanine was the first work I read that questioned some pre-packaged notions I'd digested about the soullessness of corporate culture. Well, I'm still wary of all those fluorescent lights and motivational speeches, but Baker can make drinking-straw hinges seem profound.
This fiction/meditation, whose narrative spans the length of time it takes the young protagonist to ride an escalator to the mezzanine of his office complex, proves once and for all that one can elaborate to near-infinity on absolutely any topic — and if one is brilliant, like Nicholson Baker, the result can be hilarious and meaningful. Most of the book is embedded in footnotes, a gimmick which really works for its sprawling (and charmingly neurotic) voice. A classic.
Synopses & Reviews
In his startling, witty, and inexhaustibly inventive first novel—first published in 1986 and now reissued as a Grove Press paperback—the author of Vox and The Fermata uses a one-story escalator ride as the occasion for a dazzling reappraisal of everyday objects and rituals. From the humble milk carton to the act of tying ones shoes, The Mezzanine at once defamiliarizes the familiar world and endows it with loopy and euphoric poetry. Nicholson Bakers accounts of the ordinary become extraordinary through his sharp storytelling and his unconventional, conversational style. At first glance, The Mezzanine appears to be a book about nothing. In reality, it is a brilliant celebration of things, simultaneously demonstrating the value of reflection and the importance of everyday human human experiences.
Readers follow the journey of our hero up the escalator and learn why straws don't sink in milk cartons; whether the hot air blowers in bathrooms are really more sanitary than towels; the physics of shoelaces; and how the most trivial of objects can lead to the deepest revelations of the human heart.
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