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The Intuitionist | [Colson Whitehead]

The Intuitionist

Lila Mae Watson - the first black female inspector in the world's tallest city - has the highest performance rating of anyone in the Department of Elevator Inspectors. This upsets her superiors, because Lila is an Intuitionist: she inspects elevators simply by the feelings she gets riding in them. When a brand new elevator crashes, Lila becomes caught in the conflict between her Intuitionist methods and the beliefs of the power-holding Empiricists.
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Publisher's Summary

In a marvelous debut novel that has been compared to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Joseph Heller's ,i>Catch-22, Colson Whitehead has created a strangely skewed world of elevators and the people who control their ups and downs. Lila Mae Watson - the first black female inspector in the world's tallest city - has the highest performance rating of anyone in the Department of Elevator Inspectors. This upsets her superiors, because Lila is an Intuitionist: she inspects elevators simply by the feelings she gets riding in them. When a brand new elevator crashes, Lila becomes caught in the conflict between her Intuitionist methods and the beliefs of the power-holding Empiricists. Her only hope for clearing her name lies in finding the plans of an eccentric elevator genius for the "black box": a perfect elevator. A brilliant allegory for the interaction of the races, The Intuitionist is also an intriguing mystery, solidly grounded by the exceptional narration of Peter Jay Fernandez.

©1999 Colson Whitehead; (P)2000 Recorded Books

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  •  
    Robert Surrey, BC, Canada 08-24-12
    Robert Surrey, BC, Canada 08-24-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Fires on all cylinders; GREAT ! ! !"

    The Intuitonist is one of those rare books that works as a page turning whodunit as well as a real interesting book about ideas. Colson Whitehead has a real original voice that borders on satire (Vonnegut, Ellson's 'Invisible Man') but has characters that are fully realized and not grotesques or representative of an idea or concept (a issue that hinders satire sometimes). There is a real sly comedy in this book that reminded me of that movie 'Brazil' or 'Modern Times' man can not contain its own beuracracy and technology as well as some social commentary.

    The book involves an elevator accident and the world of elevator inspectors (any one in a trade or specialized field will appreciate how Whitehead creates a macro culture for elevator inspector) and how different inspectors use different methods (intution vs emperical). Just this plot point alone gives readers a real interesting theme to chew on (the eternal struggle of intuition vs empericism) but suddenly an additional theme is added via plot twist (one of the only times I remember a change in theme had the same gut wallop of a cool plot twist) and the reader is left with he last hour being are a brilliant exercise in satire/social commentary.

    The narration is good.

    An excellent book by an exciting new writter

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Dame Scottsdale, Az 08-15-11
    Jeffrey Dame Scottsdale, Az 08-15-11 Listener Since 2008
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    "A Macguffin worth chewing on"

    I follow Colson Whitehead on Twitter, where his steady and lively bon mots pepper you from all different angles of the universe. My thought was a novel from a writer that bright and fresh should be equally worthwhile, and indeed it was. The book is a treatise on the meaning and perceptions of life and flutters between a straight forward plot and what could almost be fanciful Asimov musings on humanity without quite leaving known reality. The plot itself is not particularly relevant and serves mostly as a giant Macguffin allowing Whitehead to focus laser-like on race relations and color perceptions at certain times through complex metaphors and at other times with simple straight talk. I find Colson's writing fresh, fun and light-hearted even when addressing dense and dramatic issues and this is where the pleasure of the novel came through. The plot itself was neither here nor there, and the bitter taste race was just out of reach; but the reason to get this book is to simply enjoy Whitehead's writing and fresh turns of phrase. I came away not quite sure exactly what it was I had gotten through, but missed it all the same. The narration and audio are excellent and first rate. Good stuff, recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 05-02-13
    Tim United States 05-02-13 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are always pending.

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    "Different Floors"

    "The Intuitionist" is a top notch read. It's pretty much about elevator inspectors, which one of them is black and also a woman when race was an issue back then. The different floors in the department is not a straight forward read, but more like different dreams in each floor for Lila Mae. It's really hard to explain it. The entire story feels like a metaphor for racism at the time. It's not like The Help or The Color Purple, but its more subtle. Great writing from Colson Whitehead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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