Synopses & Reviews
With The Verificationist
, Donald Antrim, acclaimed author of The Hundred Brothers
, confirms his place as one of America's strangest and fiercely intelligent young writers.
One April night, a group of psychologists from the Krakower Institute meet at a pancake house, where they order breakfast foods and engage in shop talk and the occasional flirtation. At the center of this maelstrom of pyschobabble and unrequited lust sits Tom, program coordinator for the Young Women of Strength, who has been known to sob uncontrollably at meetings. When Tom tries to initiate a food fight, a rival psychologist bear hugs him into submission, resulting in an out-of-body experience that leaves our Tom hovering over his colleagues. In the hands of Donald Antrim, this unique perspective becomes an exuberantly funny riff on our culture that does nothing less than expose the core of emotions underlying the most basic of human needs.
"The guy has nailed me with his deadpan. Not since the late Donald Barthelme have we had such a pitch-perfect surrealizing of domestic American life, and given the already surreal nature of that life, this is saying something.... Antrim's art is to render the uncanny as if it were the canny. The confessional matter-of-factness of Tom's voice plays beautifully against the preposterous scenario.... A high-altitude view of therapists, sure. One man's existential self-confrontation, okay. More interesting to contemplate, though, is the tension of improbability that Antrim creates ... how vivid he makes that arguably near-universal split between vulnerable inwardness and the utterly implausible momentum of the outer world." Sven Birkerts, Esquire
"Donald Antrim is in top form with this high-spirited hallucination, whose characters, undeniably ourselves, carry on engagingly and shamelessly, in an off-the-wall, not to mention off-the-ceiling, environment that is also the world we know, and sometimes wish we didn't." Thomas Pynchon
"Antrim is that rarest of birds, a virtuoso satirist. In The Verificationist he plays the banal against the grotesque, sets a fool's reductionist logic grinding like a tiny wheel against the ceiling of a pancake house, finally opens the exit to the void. Antrim's extraordinary imagination has invited comparison of his work with that of Italo Calvino, but Antrim has a sharper razor, a diamond eye drilling our culture and time. In Antrim's pinball machine the reader ricochets from intellectual pleasure to anxiety to nervous laughter." Annie Proulx
About the Author
Donald Antrim is the author of three novels, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, The Hundred Brothers and The Verificationist. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.